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Indian Navy Urges Indian Industry to Forge Strategic Partnership For Design and Construction of Underwater Vehicles
Oct 21,2016

Vice Admiral GS Pabby, AVSM, VSM, Controller of Warship Production & Acquisition, Indian Navy, said this is the right time for India to take a major step towards building submarines indigenously by forging a strategic partnership with the Indian industry. He urged the leading industry houses to grab the opportunity to strengthen Indians Navy and added that there is a plethora of design and development opportunities available to the private sector in manufacturing of Navy equipment for the future. He mentioned that the six submarines on offer to the private sector for under P75(I) program was yet another opportunity by MoD to integrate the private sector in strategic defence production.

Vice Adm GS Pabby said that though India entered the sphere of submarines late but it was able to quickly catch up with the complex technology. Today, Indian Navy is designing and developing many of its equipment indigenously. The Navy has also built need-based operational requirements but is now developing its capabilities and is setting up extensive infrastructure to develop submarines in India. He mentioned that the Indian Navy took a visionary step in 1986 to establish in-house submarine design capability and the proposed seminar coincides with the 30th anniversary of the Directorate of Naval Design (Submarine Design Group).

Rear Admiral CS Rao, NM, DGND (SDG), Indian Navy, presented the scope of seminar which aims to deliberate on unique challenges and complexities of submarine design and construction; with the aim to achieve national competence in submarine design and construction through industrial partnership. He mentioned that the seminar will be divided in two technical sessions wherein session 1 will focus on self-reliance in design and construction of submarines while session 2 will deliberate on design challenges in platform integration of emerging submarine technologies. During the seminar, the officers of Indian Navy, will present perspectives on the above topics and deliberate on the future requirements to be met by the industry, academia and research and development agencies.

Dr. A. Didar Singh, Secretary General, FICCI, said that the objective of the international seminar is to emphasize the design capabilities of Indian Navy and other design agencies and to hand hold Indian industry to make the best of the capabilities and how to focus on the future requirements. He said FICCI is continuously focusing on futuristic technologies and added that in order to fulfil the national aspiration of establishment of strong defence industrial base in country, there is a need to do away with licensed production. India needs to encourage innovations in design to enhance its scientific capabilities which can later be transferred to industries for commercialisation of defence technologies.

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Over 2000 visitors thronged Consumer Mela to register their grievances
Oct 21,2016

The Consumer Mela organized by Department of Consumer Affairs on 20 October at Central Park, Connaught Place in New Delhi generated enough enthusiasm among the Consumers and more than 2000 visitors thronged the Mela to register their grievances or for counseling. National Consumer Helpline Stall registered more than 200 visitors. State Bank of India reported that 100 visitors to their counter with different queries and suggestions. There were 60 visitors in the ASCI counter enquiring about misleading advertisements. FSSAI had 250 visitors while TRAI had 200 visitors in their stall.

The Mela was organized in association with the industry bodies, FICCI, ASSOCHAM, CII, PHD CHEMBER and DICCI as well as sector regulators like TRAI FSSAI, BIS etc.

The main objective of the mela was to bring the consumers and company face to face so as to resolve the grievances to the extent possible. This was also an opportunity for the consumers to register their grievances on the spot.

During the inauguration, the Minister also launched week long Consumer Awareness programme to be observed throughout the country during 20 to 27 October 2016 this year. He announced that from next year the consumer awareness week will be observed for one week from March 15, which is World Consumer Rights Day. Incidentally, the department is also observing Swachhta Pakhwada from 16 to 31 Oct 2016 . During the Mela the visitors were informed about the responsibility of the Consumers to keep their surroundings clean.

In the Mela, apart from National Consumer Helpline, BIS, FSSAI, NTH, NCDRC, Weights and Measures, reputed private companies also participated in good number. All together there were 50 stalls put up by participants.

Shri Hem Pande, Secretary Department of Consumer Affairs exhorted all the State Governments to replicate the Mela in their respective State and UTs so as to empower the Consumers.

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Government decides to issue Sovereign Gold Bonds Scheme 2016 -17-Series III
Oct 21,2016

Government of India, in consultation with the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), has decided to issue Sovereign Gold Bonds 2016-17 - Series III. Applications for the bonds will be accepted from October 24, 2016 to November 02, 2016. The Bonds will be issued on November 17, 2016. The Bonds will be sold through banks, Stock Holding Corporation of India Limited (SHCIL), designated post offices and recognised stock exchanges viz., National Stock Exchange of India and Bombay Stock Exchange.

The features of the Bond are given below:

Product name: Sovereign Gold Bond 2016-17 - Series III

Issuance: To be issued by Reserve Bank India on behalf of the Government of India.

Eligibility: The Bonds will be restricted for sale to resident Indian entities including individuals, HUFs, Trusts, Universities and Charitable Institutions.

Denomination: The Bonds will be denominated in multiples of gram(s) of gold with a basic unit of 1 gram.

Tenor: The tenor of the Bond will be for a period of 8 years with exit option from 5th year to be exercised on the interest payment dates.

Minimum size: Minimum permissible investment will be 1 grams of gold.

Maximum limit: The maximum amount subscribed by an entity will not be more than 500 grams per person per fiscal year (April-March). A self-declaration to this effect will be obtained.

Joint holder: In case of joint holding, the investment limit of 500 grams will be applied to the first applicant only.

Issue price: Price of Bond will be fixed in Indian Rupees on the basis of simple average of closing price of gold of 999 purity published by the India Bullion and Jewellers Association Limited for the week (Monday to Friday) preceding the subscription period. The issue price of the Gold Bonds will be ` 50 per gram less than the nominal value.

Payment option: Payment for the Bonds will be through cash payment (upto a maximum of Rs. 20,000) or demand draft or cheque or electronic banking.

Issuance form: Government of India Stock under GS Act, 2006. The investors will be issued a Holding Certificate. The Bonds are eligible for conversion into demat form.

Redemption price:The redemption price will be in Indian Rupees based on previous weeks (Monday-Friday) simple average of closing price of gold of 999 purity published by IBJA.

Sales channel: Bonds will be sold through banks, Stock Holding Corporation of India (SHCIL), designated post offices as may be notified and recognised stock exchanges viz., National Stock Exchange of India and Bombay Stock Exchange, either directly or through agents.

Interest rate: The investors will be compensated at a fixed rate of 2.50 per cent per annum payable semi-annually on the nominal value of investment.

Collateral: Bonds can be used as collateral for loans. The loan-to-value (LTV) ratio is to be set equal to ordinary gold loan mandated by the Reserve Bank from time to time.

KYC Documentation: Know-your-customer (KYC) norms will be the same as that for purchase of physical gold. KYC documents such as Voter ID, Aadhaar card/PAN or TAN /Passport will be required.

Tax treatment: The interest on Gold Bonds shall be taxable as per the provision of Income Tax Act, 1961 (43 of 1961). The capital gains tax arising on redemption of SGB to an individual has been exempted. The indexation benefits will be provided to long term capital gains arising to any person on transfer of bond.

Tradability: Bonds will be tradable on stock exchanges/NDS-OM from a date to be notified by RBI.

SLR eligibility: The Bonds will be eligible for Statutory Liquidity Ratio purposes.

Commission: Commission for distribution of the bond shall be paid at the rate of 1% of the total subscription received by the receiving offices and receiving offices shall share at least 50% of the commission so received with the agents or sub agents for the business procured through them.

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Domestic manufacturing sector must gear up to face challenges from China & Robotics technology: Anant Geete
Oct 21,2016

The public and private enterprises in Indias manufacturing sector must provide quality products at an affordable cost thereby obtaining economies of scale to face challenges posed by China together with latest technologies of automation and robotics, Union Minister for Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises, Mr Anant Geete said at an ASSOCHAM event.

n++The era of globalisation has led to cut-throat competition across the world thereby making it a challenge for our manufacturing sector to survive, we need to face up to these global challenges else we might get isolated,n++ said Mr Geete while inaugurating an ASSOCHAM International Conference on Industry 4.0: Smart Manufacturing.

He said that though the government felt that pushing the industrial sector will lead to create more job opportunities but the upcoming robotics technology might lead to significant job losses.

He also said that Indias manufacturing sector has been reeling under distress during the course of past few years due to various reasons.

Highlighting how the government came to the rescue of domestic steel industry by fixing the minimum import price for steel as China was supplying finished products at the cost at which domestic industry gets raw material, he said, n++This is how China has been destabilising the domestic steel sector and more or less a similar situation is there in the entire manufacturing sector.n++

n++We need to compete with China which has spread across the world, we need to accept this challenge,n++ added Mr Geete.

The Minister said that the Prime Minister under the aegis of the governments ambitious Make in India, program has invited global investors and industrialists to come and set up their manufacturing units here in India.

n++But our first priority should be to save our domestic industry including both private and public sector enterprises as they will play the most significant role in development of programs like Make in India,n++ said Mr Geete.

He also assured the industry representatives that the government stands together with them as it will also automatically push various government programs of Make in India, Digital India, Start-up India and others.

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Central Government to open Krishi Vigyan Kendra in all the districts of the country
Oct 20,2016

The Central Government has announced opening of at least one Krishi Vigyan Kendra in all districts of the country. This will provide advanced Agriculture technical assistance to the farmers near their farms itself. Besides this, Central Agriculture and farmers welfare minister Shri. Radha Mohan Singh has also announced opening of Apiary Development Centers in ten states. Shri Singh called upon the farmers to use the residual husk after paddy farming to make organic fertilizer, in paper making and Card-board Industry and as animal feed. This will prevent the adverse effect of husk burning on the environment. Shri Singh directed that all the KVK and district Agriculture officers should apprise farmers to make appropriate use of husk. Shri Radha Mohan Singh Said that Honble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modis Mission to increase the number of trees in the country by planting saplings on farm boundaries under National Forestry Plan should be implemented.

Shri Radha Mohan Singh said all these things in New Delhi today while interacting via video conference with all the Krishi Vigyan Kendra experts, District level officers associated with agriculture Development and progressive farmers of 12 states. It was the first occasion when the Union Agriculture and farmers welfare minister addressed the officers of Krishi Vigyan Kendra and District Agriculture officers, through video conference.

Shri Singh suggested the farmers to farm fish in paddy field, as this will provide them economic benefit. The Central Agriculture and farmers welfare minister stressed improvement of indigenous breeds in Animal husbandry and vaccination of domestic animals especially against foot and mouth disease.

During the video conference, Shri Radha Mohan Singh reiterated the resolve to modernize agriculture. Shri Singh said that farming will be modernized through use of drone and smart phones. The Central Minister declared that Skill development work is being initiated at 100 KVKs and pulses and oilseeds hubs are being established at same number of KVKs.

Shri Radha Mohan Singh appealed the youth to associate themselves with Agriculture schemes based Start-ups and instructed the KVK and Agriculture officers to help the youth in connecting with the Start-ups, so that more job opportunities may be created. Shri Singh also urged all to provide constructive assistance to the Swatch Bharat Mission. The Union Minister directed all the Krishi Vigyan Kendra Experts and district level officers associated with Agriculture development to participate in the cleanliness campaign in at least 5 villages so that more awareness on cleanliness may be created in the society.

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13.4% Growth in Foreign Tourist Arrivals in September 2016 over the Same Period in 2015
Oct 20,2016

Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTAs) in September 2016 register a growth of 13.4% over the same period in 2015. Bangladesh accounts for highest share of tourist arrivals followed by USA and UK in September 2016. Rs. 11. 781 crore Foreign Exchange earned through tourism in September 2016.

Ministry of Tourism compiles monthly estimates of Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTAs) on the basis of Nationality-wise, Port-wise data received from Bureau of Immigration (BOI) and Foreign Exchange Earnings (FEEs) from tourism on the basis of data available from Reserve Bank of India. The following are the important highlights regarding FTAs and FEEs from tourism during the month of September, 2016.

Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTAs) :-

n++ FTAs during the Month of September, 2016 were 6.15 lakh as compared to FTAs of 5.42 lakh during the month of September, 2015 and 5.09 lakh in September, 2014. There has been a growth of 13.4% in September, 2016 over September, 2015.

n++ FTAs during the period January- September, 2016 were 62.07 lakh with a growth of 10.5% as compared to the FTAs of 56.15 lakh with a growth of 4.8% in January- September, 2015 over January- September, 2014.

n++ The Percentage share of Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTAs) in India during September, 2016 among the top 15 source countries was highest from Bangladesh (20.58%) followed by USA (10.96%), UK (7.97%), Malaysia (4.98%), Sri Lanka (3.98%), Australia (3.47%), China (3.36%), Germany (2.83%), Japan (2.79%), Canada (2.58%), Nepal (2.16%), France (2.15%), Singapore (2.08%), Afghanistan (1.57%) and Pakistan (1.36%).

n++ The Percentage share of Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTAs) in India during September 2016 among the top 15 ports was highest at Delhi Airport (30.99%) followed by Mumbai Airport (16.28%), Haridaspur Land check post (11.62%), Chennai Airport (8.30%), Bengaluru Airport (6.01%), Kolkata Airport (4.43%), Cochin Airport (3.22%), Hyderabad Airport (3.01%), Gede Rail (2.28%), Tiruchirapalli Airport (1.99%), Ahmadabad Airport (1.72%),Trivandrum Airport (1.49%), Ghojadanga land check post (1.29%), Amritsar Airport (1.01%) and Attari-Wagh Land check post (0.99%).

Foreign Exchange Earnings (FEEs) from Tourism in India in Rs. terms and in US$ terms

n++ FEEs during the month of September, 2016 were Rs. 11,781 crore as compared to Rs. 10,415 crore in September, 2015 and Rs. 9,057 crore in September, 2014.

n++ The growth rate in FEEs in rupee terms during September, 2016 over September, 2015 was 13.1% as compared to the growth of 15.0% in September, 2015 over September, 2014.

n++ FEEs from tourism in rupee terms during January- September, 2016 were Rs. 1,12,068 crore with a growth of 14.5% as compared to the FEE of Rs. 97,843 crore with a growth of 10.1% during January- September, 2015 over January- September, 2014.

n++ FEEs in US$ terms during the month of September, 2016 were US$ 1.765 billion as compared to FEEs of US$ 1.573 billion during the month of September, 2015 and US$ 1.488 billion in September, 2014.

n++ The growth rate in FEEs in US$ terms in September, 2016 over September, 2015 was 12.2% compared to the growth of 5.7% in September, 2015 over September, 2014.

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SBI Composite Index remains flat in October 2016
Oct 20,2016

The yearly SBI Composite Index for October 2016 remained stationary at 50.2 (Low Growth), compared to September 2016. The Monthly Index declined marginally to 52.1 (Moderate Growth) in October 2016 from 52.6 (Moderate Decline) in September 2016.

The SBI economic research department believes in the coming months of September and October, manufacturing growth is likely to remain flat and IIP growth may even continue to remain in the negative territory. The fortnightly data of ASCB indicates that credit off-take (YoY) continues to be a laggard and is at 10.4% in 30 September 2016. However, after adjusting for UDAY bonds, bank credit growth as of September 2016 comes out to be 12.9% as compared to the actual growth of 10.4%.

The SBI economic research department expects that the credit cycle will turn for the better in a gradual manner. The good thing is that a part of the slowdown in corporate credit growth in the current fiscal is because of deleveraging by corporates and subsequent repayments. Retail credit growth continues to be strong. Additionally, about 48% of the credit upgrades in H2 FY2016 was due to better order book/ healthy demand, improvement in profit margins and efficient management of working capital.

One important feature of Indias banking system is that data on deposits rate movements and even lending rate indicates that banking industry still follows SBI rate action, be it either deposit or even MCLR rates.

Also, the SBI economic research department expects a faster rate of MCLR transmission by banks in the coming days as inflation will rapidly decelerate to sub 3.5% in November and RBI will cut rates. It even believes that inflation will materially stay below 4% beginning October, possibly for 3-4 months.

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Gartner Says Technology Will Revolutionize Primary Healthcare Over the Next Two Decades
Oct 20,2016

As the direction of automated continuous primary care moves into a new era, virtual personal health assistants (VPHAs) could replace the human interface, and do a superior job, according to Gartner, Inc. Gartner predicts that by 2025, 50 percent of the population will rely on VPHAs for primary care, finding them more responsive and accurate than their human counterparts.

Gartners Maverick research is designed to spark new, unconventional insights. It is unconstrained by Gartners typical broad consensus-formation process to deliver breakthrough, innovative and disruptive ideas from the companys research incubator to help organizations get ahead of the mainstream and take advantage of trends and insights that could impact IT strategy and the wider organization.

There is significant evidence that the majority of primary healthcare visits are of little value to the patient, and represent a massive drain on trained physician time. Physician demand is outpacing supply, begging the need for alternatives, said Laura Craft, research director at Gartner. Technology has advanced to the point where computers have become superior to the human mind; they are more accurate and consistent, and they are better at processing all the determinants of health and well-being than even the best of doctors.

Health monitoring devices that gather health data from people are the beginning of the journey away from in-person exams and diagnoses to remote and virtual monitoring. VPHAs will become the referee of all data and information and will be the interface for communicating with people on health, wellness advice and recommendations based on the processing of the data collected and the individuals health goals and needs.

Leading indicators prove that technology has advanced in this direction, and mainstream maturity is likely within 15 years, said Ms. Craft. Eliminating the physician for annual exams and primary health will happen, but, we need to recognize that this is a radical departure from primary care today. New channels of medical care create the need for changes in behavior, thinking, and perhaps even law. However, many barriers that might have been perceived as obstacles are already fading.

The Doctor Patient Relationship Barrier:

There are many indicators that show that people are adopting technology to track and manage their health and are moving past reliance on the physician for all things medical. The internet, wearables, and health and wellness apps are helping people to manage their health and are providing unprecedented access to a lot of medical information. Additionally, the millennial generation has a very different relationship with technology than its parents and grandparents, and is much more likely to use an app over a human interface.

Legal Barriers:

Medical errors will likely be reduced once human judgment is taken out of the equation. Once smart machines n++ powered by precision algorithms n++ take over, the entire notion of what constitutes medical malpractice will change.

Regulatory Barriers:

These new technologies do need to be regulated and there will be diversity from country to country in what the standards are. However, the regulatory barriers for getting devices to market are no different than getting innovative drugs and therapies approved today.

Funding Barriers:

Smart machines, virtual personal assistants and personal health hubs are just a part of a much bigger picture of how healthcare will be funded in the future. Globally, the shift toward population health management programs that emphasize lower costs, improved quality, decreased disparity and increased access, and a better experience for the patient incentivizes the use of technology to stay healthy and be connected to a care network.

Technology will not replace the primary tier of medicine for everyone. Primary care physicians will be needed to care for the chronically ill, the elderly, and special needs patients to coordinate their care and the more complex care plans their conditions call for. But for the vast majority, replacing primary and routine care with technology is within our grasp and a highly likely possibility, said Ms. Craft. People will come to prefer their VPHA to a primary care physician and will develop the same, or perhaps a better, relationship with it. It will be more accurate, more responsive and more personal. In fact, most medical professionals we shared this notion with, ultimately agreed n++ its in the future; its inevitable.

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Cargo Traffic at Major Ports grows by 5.2 % during first six months of FY 2016-17
Oct 20,2016

The Major Ports in India handled 315.4 MT (Million Tonnes) of cargo during the first six months of FY 2016-17 (April-September) and showed a positive growth of 5.1 percent as compared to the same period last year. The cargo traffic handled by the Major Ports during the same period last year was 299.5 MT. This improvement of performance is the result of many measures initiated by the Ministry of Shipping to improve the performance of the ports. These include mechanization of the terminals, improving the TAT (turn-around time), quick evacuation of cargo, expansion of infrastructure and skill development of employees. The slew of measures taken by the Ministry of Shipping to improve performance of Ports has started to yield positive results.

Major Ports with the highest increase in traffic during April - September 2016

Murmogao Port recorded the highest growth in traffic during the first six months of FY 2016-17 (April-September); Mormugao Port showed an increase of 61 % followed by Paradip at 18.3 % Vishakhapatnam at 11 %, Kandkla at 7.1 %, Cochin at 5.2 %, V.O. Chidambaranar at 3.5%, New Mangalore Port at 3.4 % and Chennai Port at 0.3 %.

Major Ports with the highest cargo-handling share

Kandla Port handled the maximum cargo during the first six months of the FY 2016-17 (April-September). The Port handled 53.9 MT (17.1%) of the total cargo handled by Major Ports. Paradip was a close second at 42.6 MT (13.5%) followed by JNPT at 30.8 MT (9.8%) and Mumbai Port at 30.8 MT (9.8%).

Vishakhapatnam Port handled 30.6 MT cargo (9.7%) followed by Chennai at 25,892 MT (8.2%), V.O. Chidambaranar at 19.3 MT (6.1 %). New Mangalore Port handled 17.5 MT (5.5%) of cargo followed by Haldia Dock Complex at 16.2 MT( 5.1%), Karmajar Port at 14.8 MT (4.7%).

The last three positions were occupied by Mormugao Port which handled 10.07 MT (4.1%) of cargo, Cochin Port at 11.9 Mt (3.8%) and Kolkata Dock System 7.6 MT (2.4%) respectively.

Commodity-wise growth of cargo traffic at Major Ports

The first six month of FY 2016-17 (April- September) witnessed an astounding growth in Iron Ore which showed a growth of 142.4% as compared to the same period last year. This growth in cargo share of Iron Ore can be attributed to re-starting of Iron Ore mining in the State of Goa. POL (Petroleum, oil & Lubricants) increased by 5.8% followed by other cargo at 4.6% and container at 0.7% as compared to the same period in 2015-16.

In terms of composition of the cargo handled at Major Ports, the largest commodity handled in the period of April-September 2016 was POL (37.1%), followed by Coal at (23.4%), container traffic (19.6%), other cargo (11.9%), Iron ore (5.66%) and Fertilizer and FRM (2.5%).

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Ministry of Road Transport & Highways pushes ahead with its skilling programme
Oct 20,2016

The Ministry of Road Transport & Highways is steadily pushing ahead with its programme for training and skill upgradation of drivers and highway construction workers. Several circulars have been issued over the last three months, outlining the guidelines of the scheme and issuing directions to the concerned authorities and agencies in the centre and all states.

In case of drivers, the skill training / skill upgradation will be provided at the existing driver training centres run by the State Road Transport Corporations (SRTCs). In addition to this, private promoters are also being invited to set up training facilities. The Ministry of Road Transport & Highways will give a grant of Rs 1 crore to each SRTC for augmenting its training infrastructure. Similarly, the Ministry will also give a grant of Rs 1 crore to each private promoter for setting up training centres, after their project report is duly appraised and sanctioned by NSDC or a recognized financial institution.

The Ministry will also provide a stipend to each trainee, both at the government and privately run training centres, based on the daily minimum wage, to compensate for loss of income during the training period. This amount will be borne out of the Road Safety Funds of the Ministry. The cost of training will be met out of Prime Minister Kaushal Vikas Yojana of the Ministry of Skill Development both at the government and privately run training centres.

The State Road Transport Corporations have been asked to open their training centres to the general public. At present, only drivers employed by the SRTC were being trained at these centres. The Automotive Skill Development Council (ASDC) of the Ministry of Skill Development has drawn up a curricular for the training of drivers under its National Skill Qualification Framework (NSQF) . All training centres will have to conform to NSQF guidelines . The Ministry had issued directions in this regard to Transport Commissioners / Secretaries of all states and UTs and Managing Directors of all SRTCs in August. So far, 55 proposals have already been received from nine SRTCs for implementing the scheme.

For skill development of workmen in the highways construction sector the Ministry has resorted to convergence of resources. This training is proposed to be done by concessionaires / contractors at project sites, ITIs and Indian Academy of Highways Engineers. In addition to this, according to a circular issued this week, for projects with civil works of Rs 100 crore or more, the training will be taken up by the Project Head looking after the concerned project through the authorised training centres of Directorate General of Training. Preference is to be given to the institutes located near the project site. The Project Head/Executive Engineer will have to ensure that the training of workmen is as per the NSQF.

The training cost will be met from the provision of the contingency fund at a rate of 0.05% of the total estimated cost of civil work. For example, if the total civil construction cost is Rs 100 Crore, Contingencies @ 2.8% would be Rs 2.8 crore. Provision for skill development as proposed @ 0.05 % would then be Rs 0.05 Crore and the contingencies available for the main work would be Rs 2.75 crore. For this training also the Ministry will pay the trainees a stipend based on minimum wages to compensate for the loss of income during the training period. This expenditure will be met from the CRF allocation.

This weeks circular also aims to rope in private contractors/ concessionaires into the training scheme by directing that the Contract Documents/ Agreement should be amended to include the provision that the Contractor/Concessionaire will try to hire at least 10% trained workmen as per NSQF. If necessary, the requisite workmen may be got trained through recognised institutes; and also that the Contractor/Concessionaire will organize training at project site/sites for the trainees as and when required as per the training schedule finalised in consultation with the training institutes, and the Project Director/Executive Engineer. The Ministry has directed that the above provisions should be incorporated in the tender documents immediately and be made applicable to all projects with civil works of Rs. 100 Crores and above which are at tender stage or yet to be awarded. For ongoing projects, the same is to be incorporated by signing the Supplementary Agreement to the main Contract Agreement.

The scheme for training and skill upgradation of drivers and highways construction workers is a major initiative of the Ministry that aims at bridging the gap between the demand for skilled persons in the transport sector and the huge shortfall in the availability of the same. Training and skill upgradation will not only provide employment to a large number of people, but also make Indian roads safer for driving by inculcating the desired sense of responsible driving among the trained drivers.

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Moodys: Enhancement to Indias PPP model could boost infrastructure investment
Oct 20,2016

Moodys Investors Service says that enhancement of Indias (Baa3 positive) public-private partnership (PPP) model could help attract more private sector investment towards infrastructure projects, and thus help address the countrys very large infrastructure needs.

Historical underinvestment and rapid economic growth are straining Indias existing infrastructure, says Abhishek Tyagi, a Moodys Vice President and Senior Analyst. While the countrys PPP model has seen reasonable success in some sectors over the last 20 years, PPP activity has been low in the last four fiscal years due to challenges with the PPP model.

As such, Indias PPP framework will benefit if it is developed further to address key issues regarding (1) improved risk allocation; (2) the ability to renegotiate unpredictable factors in the bid documents; and (3) a move away from project awards based on one metric, such as estimated revenues, says Tyagi.

The Moodys report highlights that there has been a large decline in private investment in PPP projects in recent years for a number of reasons, including delays in project approvals and land purchases by the government, complicated dispute resolution mechanisms in the concession agreements, and lower than expected revenues due to aggressive assumptions.

Delays in project completion have resulted in cost overruns and revenue losses to private concession owners. These factors have impacted the financial viability of some projects and their ability to service debt.

The poor performance of some infrastructure projects, including PPP, has been a source of stress for both developers and the Indian banking system.

The June 2016 Financial Stability Report (FSR) of the Reserve Bank of India stated that infrastructure, which accounted for 14.2% of total advances of the banking sector, accounted for 34.4% of restructured standard advances and 13.9% of gross non-performing assets of commercial banks in India.

In that regard, Moodys points out that more developed PPP markets, such as in the UK, Canada and Australia, use both availability-payment and demand risk PPP models, and relatively standardized bid documents -- features that could address some of the bottlenecks in Indias PPP framework.

In particular, Moodys says these more developed PPP markets typically feature (1) well-developed regulatory frameworks; (2) largely standardized project contracts; (3) a large and sophisticated investor base; and (4) predictable project pipelines.

Adjustments to the PPP framework in India to align it more with those of more mature PPP markets could help attract new private investment, says Moodys.

Indias economy is set to grow at the fastest pace among major economies in 2016 and 2017, although GDP growth remains constrained by various factors, including inadequate infrastructure investments.

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Ready to start consultative process on private investment in railways: Rajen Gohain, MoS Railways
Oct 20,2016

Railway Ministry urges private sector to make investments in railway infrastructure, for which they are ready to offer an attractive and investment friendly environment particularly looking at investment partners in 400+ station building projects for high return on investment, said Mr Rajen Gohain, Minister of State for Railway at an ASSOCHAM event.

We have to move merely providing rail infrastructure to other support services such as technology up gradation, better logistic support and better passenger services in an integrated manner, said Mr Rajen Gohain, Minister of State for Railways, while inaugurating an ASSOCHAM conference on ASSOCHAM International Summit on Invest Rail .

n++Need of the hour in Indian Railways is the massive investment and new technology without which we cannot move to become a world class transporter. Thus, the plan is to increase investment to nearly one trillion rupees in the next decaden++, said Mr Rajen Gohain.

Thus, Rail is the right forum for investment that can address nearly all investments challenges such as ensuring reduced global warming, volatile fuel costs, having lower energy consumption, reducing urban congestion, having less land usage, servicing an aging population and making transportation accessible to all ages across all income brackets. In addition, rail has lower infrastructure renewal and maintenance cost which is often mentioned as 20 times lower per ton kilometre that other forms.

n++Investment in rail will thus help in the planets sustainable and environmental goals and help in meeting the greenhouse gas emission targets. In addition, rail offers a more stable and sustainable form of transportation. We, in Indian Railways, are thus trying to have a collaborative approach in bringing governments, local authorities, railways and other stakeholders on the same wave length for a more sustainable form of transport systemn++, mentioned Mr. Gohain.

Investing in rail stimulates the economy while reducing CO2 emissions and urban congestion. As many countries worldwide plan to step up their investments in rail over the next decade, we in Indian Railways can and must do more. While India has the worlds fourth largest rail network, it has been outstripped by /china, which now has more than six times as much track following an intensive expansion and modernisation of its network over the past two decades. We are thus also looking in using PPP more- or as articulated in the coming years. We aim to keep people at the centre of all our activities and investments in our journey, said Railway Minister.

Indian Railways has one of the biggest network in the world and is recognised as one of the largest organisation under single management. It is also an admitted fact that for the past couple of centuries, transportation has fuelled the worlds economy. In this context, for the countrys economic and environmental health, it is thus time to restore the balance between road, air and rail.

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MoU Signed between NICPR and All India Institute of Ayurveda for Cancer Prevention and Research
Oct 20,2016

An MoU was signed between the National Institute of Cancer Prevention and Research (NICPR), an autonomous institute under Department of Health Research, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare and All India Institute of Ayurveda (AIIA), an autonomous institute under the Ministry of AYUSH. The main objective of the MoU is to set up a Center of Integrative Oncology at NICPR-Noida as joint venture of Ministry of AYUSH and Department of Health Research, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare for collaboration in the areas of cancer prevention, research and Care.

The MoU was signed by Prof. Abhimanyu Kumar, Director- AIIA and Prof. Ravi Mehrotra, Director- NICPR. This MoU would pave the way to carry forward the ongoing bilateral dialogue and facilitate collaboration with National Cancer Institute, USA.

Setting up of this Centre is an outcome of the deliberations held in Indo-US Workshop where in the invited US delegates from Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), National Institute of Health (NIH), National Cancer Institute (NIH) deliberated with the eminent experts from India having expertise in Cancer research and other promising areas for two days to share experiences and work out a road map for future collaborations.

Dr. Swaminathan while appreciating the initiative observed that the main aim should be to reduce the incidence of cancer for which preventive aspects with the strengths of AYUSH systems should be explored. She viewed that the collaborative research should aim at developing traditional medicine as adjuvant therapy to reduce the side effects of chemotherapy. She emphasized on collaborative studies both short term and long term involving institutions of repute at national and international level.

Shri Sharan appreciated the efforts and assured that funding would not be a constraint in carrying out the activities under the MoU. He outlined the five major action points as follows:-

n++ Awarding 10 new research fellowships every year - The process for the first batch will be completed by March, 2017.

n++ Minimum of five collaborative research projects will be supported in the financial year 2016-2017.

n++ Ministry would also develop few Centres of Excellence for cancer research and has identified the AIIA and the Rajaram Deo Anadilal Poddar Ayurveda Cancer Research Institute, Mumbai, a unit of Centre Council for Research in Ayurveda Sciences (CCRAS). This would be done by March, 2017.

n++ A Steering Committee and Scientific Advisory committee would be jointly constituted by the Ministry of AYUSH and the Department of Health Research, Ministry of Health & F.W by Dec, 2016

n++ International Conferences would be organised annually.

On this significant occasion, a Web portal on Network for AYUSH Cancer Care (NFACC) developed by the AIIA was also launched by Secretary, AYUSH. The portal would help to collect the national data of experts, scientists, practitioners, institutes, universities located across the country and engaged in cancer care & research. An online App of NFACC has also been developed. This app will be available on the website of various AYUSH institutions which will provide a hyperlink to the main Portal. In future, this portal will have collection of research papers related to Cancer care, information about the facilities available for Cancer care through AYUSH systems.

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Railway stations and surrounding areas to be redeveloped under Smart City Plans
Oct 20,2016

In a major initiative, railway stations and adjoining areas will be redeveloped on Smart City lines for enhancing passenger amenities, easy access to stations, enabling optimal utilization of land at railway stations, as a part of Smart City development.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed today in this regard by the Ministries of Urban Development and Railways in the presence of Shri M.Venkaiah Naidu and Shri Suresh Prabhu. Dr.Sameer Sharma, Mission Director, Smart City Mission and Shri Rajiv Chaudhary, Advisor, Ministry of Railways signed the MoU.

Both the Ministers lauded the joint initiative as a historic landmark that brings synergy in development of smart cities since there cant be a smart city without a smart railway station. Shri M.Venkaiah Naidu said on the occasion that this convergence based city development will result in qualitative improvement in city life. He suggested involvement of local people in redevelopment plans.

Shri Naidu suggested that to begin with 10 cities could be taken up for the proposed redevelopment with the involvement of National Buildings Construction Corporation(NBCC) which has successfully executed redevelopment projects on self-financing basis. These cities are : Sarai Rohilla (Delhi), Bhubaneswwar, Lucknow, Varnasi, Jaipur, Kota, Thane, Margao(Goa), Tirupati and Puducherry. This was agreed to by Railway Minister.

Minister of Railways Shri Suresh Prabhu said that railway stations have been the core of city development and have become congested over time and their redevelopment offers immense opportunities for changing city landscape. Stating that redevelopment work of Habibganj railway station has already been awarded and plans for Anand Vihar (Delhi), Surat, Bijwasan and Gandhinagar are in advanced stage. He said that several countries like Germany, France, Japan, South Korea, UK and Belgium have showed interest in redevelopment and a Round Table of domestic and overseas bankers will be organized next week to discuss financing of these redevelopment projects.

To be implemented first in the 100 cities included in the Smart City Mission, redevelopment of railway stations will be undertaken in AMRUT (Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation) and HRIDAY (Heritage Infrastructure Development and Augmentation Yojana) cities extending the scope of the MoU to over 500 cities.

Railway station and the adjoining area in each of these cities will be redeveloped on the lines of Area Based Development provided in the Smart City Mission Guidelines. Average cost of redevelopment of identified area of about 500 acres in the Smart City Plans of 60 cities approved so far comes to about Rs.1,500 cr. The proposed redevelopment involving railway stations envisages improving passenger amenities, easy access to stations, integrated public transport hub, waiting halls and other amenities for passengers, development of residential and commercial spaces, land scaping etc.

The joint initiative of the Ministries of Urban Development and Railways widens the smart city development to one more area in each of the mission cities with each city required to select one area under respective Smart City Plans in the first phase.

The MoU proposes two Joint Venture options for speedy redevelopment of railway station centred areas. The first being between the Railways and the Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) formed for execution of Smart City Plans, with equal share in equity. In the second model, National Buildings Construction Corporation (NBCC) can be roped in with equal share among the three. NBCC can design, develop and execute the redevelopment plans on self-financing basis.

While the Ministry of Railways takes the responsibility of forming Joint Ventures, the Ministry of Urban Development will work with the States and Urban Local Bodies for integrating railway station redevelopment as part of smart city development plans.

MoU states that Both railway station redevelopment and Smart City concepts are part of holistic development of respective city. Redevelopment of railway station and its suburbs as part of Smart City Plans leads to an integrated public transport hub around railway station and encourage Transit Oriented Development.n++

The validity of the MoU is five years to begin with and can be extended with the consent of both the Ministries.

Smart City Plans of some cities have already included area based development surrounding railway stations. These include; Bhubaneswar, Thane and Solapur (Maharashtra), Kakinada (Andhra Pradesh), Ahmedabad, Ajmer, Hubli-Dharwad (Karnataka).

Smart City Plans of some other cities may potentially impact city railway station and allied services. These include; Jaipur, Kochi, Jabalpur, Visakhapatnam, Indore, Pune, Bhopal, Chennai etc.

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Cabinet Secretary reviews availability and prices of essential commodities
Oct 19,2016

Cabinet Secretary, Shri PK Sinha today reviewed availability and the prices of essential commodities at a high-level meeting with Secretaries of Consumer Affairs, Agriculture, Food & Public Distribution, Commerce, Expenditure and others. It was observed that the recent measures taken by the Central Government have helped containing prices of most of the pulses, which are showing declining trends, and other essential commodities except Chana and Sugar. Cabinet Secretary directed Department of Consumer Affairs to consider all options to check the prices of both the commodities. He said that distribution of the Chana dal and other pulses should be taken up through postal network.

Consumer Affairs Secretary was also asked to pursue states to impose stock limits and to carry dehoarding drives to ensure availability of all the essential commodities during ongoing festival season. The meeting also reviewed distribution of pulses to the State Government from the buffer stock

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