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Cabinet approves USOF support to BSNL for Rural Wire-line connections installed prior to 1.4.2002
Sep 21,2016

The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, has approved the proposal to extend subsidy support of Rs. 1,250 crore to Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) from Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF), as compensation for deficit incurred by BSNL in operating the Rural Wire-line connections installed prior to 1st April, 2002. The eligible rural wire-line connections installed prior to 1.4.2002 is 32.32 lakh, across India as on 31.3.2014.

The Cabinet also approved that the above subsidy support would be the last and final payment and no further request from BSNL for financial/subsidy support from USOF on this count shall be considered.

In order to make Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) eligible for subsidy funding on nomination basis from USOF, amendment will be required in Rule 526 of the Indian Telegraph Rules (ITRs), 1951. It stipulates that the criteria for selection of Universal Service Providers shall be made by bidding process from amongst eligible entities for implementation of USOF schemes. Corresponding Amendment in Rule 525 will also be required.

Full/lump-sum amount of Rs. 1,250 Crore shall be disbursed, consequent to necessary amendment of the ITRs and signing of USOF agreement with BSNL. Utilization certificate of the USOF subsidy disbursed towards operation and maintenance of the rural wire-line connections would be submitted by BSNL.

Background:

USOF since its inception in 2002 has been providing subsidy for BSNL for the rural wire line connections installed prior to 1.4.2002. A total of Rs. 8,692 crore has been extended as USOF subsidy support till date, for the rural wire-line connections, installed by BSNL prior to 1.4.2002. The details are as follows:

USOF Scheme

 

Basis

 

Amount (Rs. crore)

 

Period of support

 

RDEL-D

 

Difference between regulated rental and actual rental

 

1192

 

1st April 2002 to

31st January 2004

 

RDEL-P

 

TRAI recommendations dated 27.03.2008

 

6000

 

18th July 2008 to 17th July 2011

 

RDEL-P

 

TRAI recommendations dated 14.05.2012

 

1500

 

18th July 2011 to 17th July 2012

The TRAI in its report dated 14.05.2012 had recommended amount of subsidy support-of Rs. 1,500 crore for the period 18th July 2011 to 17th July 2012 and Rs. 1,250 crore for the 18th July 2012 to 17th July 2013.

Telecom Commission, in its meeting dated 11.12.2012, considered the views of the TRAI and USOF and directed that an assessment be carried out of the current status of the infrastructure.

Telecom Commission/EFC in its meeting dated 14th July 2015 considered the findings of the evaluation/assessment study conducted by National Institute of Communication Finance and recommended the subsidy support of Rs. 1250 crore to BSNL from USOF, as compensation for deficit incurred by BSNL in operating the Rural Wire-line connections installed prior to 1st April 2002 Telecom Commission also recommended that the subsidy support of Rs. 1250 crore would be the last and final payment and no further request from BSNL for financial/subsidy support from USOF on this count shall be considered.

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Cabinet approves Agreement between India and Samoa for exchange of information with respect to Taxes
Sep 21,2016

The Union Cabinet under the Chairmanship of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval for signing and ratification of Agreement between India and Samoa for the exchange of information with respect to Taxes.

The Agreement will stimulate the flow of exchange of information between India and Samoa for tax purposes which will help curb tax evasion and tax avoidance.

There is no financial implications at present. Only in the event of extraordinary costs exceeding USD 500, the same will be borne by India. India has similar provisions in other such tax information exchange agreement.

Salient features of the Agreement:

1. The Agreement enables the competent authorities of India and Samoa to provide assistance through exchange of information that is foreseeably relevant to the administration and enforcement of the domestic laws of the two countries concerning taxes covered by this Agreement.

2. The information received under the Agreement shall be treated as confidential and may be disclosed only to persons or authorities (including courts or administrative bodies) concerned with assessment, collection, enforcement, prosecution or determination of appeals in relation to taxes covered under the Agreement. Information may be disclosed to any other person or entity or authority or jurisdiction with the prior written consent of the information sending country.

3. The Agreement also provides for Mutual Agreement Procedure for resolving any difference or for agreeing on procedures under the Agreement.

4. The Agreement shall enter into force on the date of notification of completion of the procedures required by the respective laws of the two countries for entry into force of the Agreement.

Background:

The Central Government is authorized under section 90 of the Income Tax Act, 1961 to enter into an Agreement with a foreign country or specified territory for exchange of information for the prevention of evasion or avoidance of income-tax chargeable under the Income-tax Act, 1961. Negotiations for entering into an Agreement for the exchange of information with respect to Taxes were finalized between India and Samoa in June, 2016 and both countries have agreed on the text of the Agreement.

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Cabinet gives ex-post facto approval to enhancement of Pension for Freedom Fighters
Sep 21,2016

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its ex-post facto approval to enhancement of Pension for Freedom Fighters and for the spouses (widows/widowers), eligible daughters and dependent parents of deceased Freedom Fighters, under the Swatantrata Sainik Samman Pension Scheme (SSSPS), 1980.

The existing pension scheme for Central freedom fighter pensioners and their eligible dependents has been restructured as follows:-

Sl.
No.Category of Freedom FightersPresent amount of pension (per month)Enhanced amount of pension (per month)1.Ex-Andaman Political Prisoners/ spousesRs. 24,775Rs. 30,000/-2.Freedom fighters who suffered outside British India/spousesRs. 23,085/-Rs. 28,000/-3.Other Freedom Fighters / spouses including INARs. 21,395/-Rs. 26,000/-4.Dependent parents/eligible daughters (maximum 3 daughters at any point of time)Rs. 3,380/-50% of the sum that would have been admissible to the Freedom Fighter i.e. in the range of Rs. 13,000/- to Rs. 15,000/-

(i)                    The revised scale of pension has taken effect from 15.O8.2016. Further, the revised total amount of pension will be taken as basic pension for the respective categories of Freedom Fighter pensioners for calculating Dearness Relief.

(ii)                  The existing Dearness Relief system based on All India Consumer Price Index for Industrial workers, which was so far applicable to freedom fighter pensioners on annual basis, is being discontinued and replaced by the Dearness Allowance system applicable to Central Government employees twice a year. This will be termed as Dearness Relief, the appropriate term in case of pensioners.

All freedom fighters and spouses and dependent parents/eligible daughter pensioners of deceased freedom fighters drawing pension under the Swatantrata Sainik Samman Pension Scheme, 1980 would be benefitted by the decision.

Background

.                        Government of India introduced in 1969, the Ex-Andaman Political Prisoners Pension Scheme to honour the freedom fighters who had been incarcerated in the Cellular Jail at Port Blair. In order to commemorate the 25th Anniversary of Independence in 1972, a regular scheme for grant of freedom fighters pension was introduced. Thereafter, with effect from 1.8.1980, a liberalized scheme, the Swatantrata Sainik Samman Pension Scheme is being implemented. Besides the freedom fighters, spouses (widows.widowers), unmarried and unemployed daughters (up to maximum three at any point of time) and parents of deceased freedom fighters are eligible for pension under the Scheme. Till 2016, a total of 1,71,605 freedom fighters and their eligible dependents have been sanctioned pension under the scheme. At present, 37,981 freedom fighters and their eligible dependent pensioners are covered under the scheme. Out of these, 11,690 are freedom fighters themselves, 24,792 are spouses (widows/ widowers) and 1,490 are daughter pensioners. Instructions have been issued to all the authorized banks for ensuring Aadhar linked disbursement of Freedom Fighter pension as early as possible.

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Varanasi seeks to become Suramya, Samunnat, Sanyojit Kashi under Smart City Plan
Sep 21,2016

One of the ancient cities of the world, Varanasi seeks to acquire smart city features through retrofitting of an area of 1,389 acres in the iconic old city area along the Ganga River besides enabling e-governance for the benefit of the people of the entire city. Based on the Rs.2,520 cr Smart City Plan submitted by the city government, Varanasi was yesterday declared by the Minister of Urban Development Shri M.Venkaiah Naidu as one of the new batch of 27 cities selected for financing smart city development plans.

The Smart City Plan of Varanasi aims at turning the city into a Suramya, Samunnat, Surakshit, Sanyojit, Nirmal and Ekikrit Kashi by addressing the present bottlenecks in infrastructure and city governance.

After considering nine locations of the city and based on voting by over four lakh citizens n++old city with Ganga as its pivot and Kashi Vishwanath Temple defining the awe, ethos, beliefs and the preferences of the masses, emerged as the forerunner for Area Based Developmentn++ said the city government in the smart city proposal. E-governance and integrated traffic management were prioritized for technology based Pan-city solutions.

The old city area chosen for area based development accounts for 7% of citys geographical area, 31% of population and 38% of citys GDP. Rs.1,659 cr will be spent on area development and Rs.618 cr on Pan-city solutions. The rest includes technical and administrative expenses and other contingencies.

With about 65 lakh tourists visiting the city every year, the proposal for Varanasi seeks to leverage the citys rich cultural heritage by enhancing the citys presentation and appeal (Suramya) to take full advantage of tourism potential and ensure socio-economic growth (Samunnat) for increased employment opportunities, ensuring security (Surakshit), enabling hassle free movement (Sanyojit), cleanliness (Nirmal) and integrated, technology based governance (Ekikrit) for Simple, Modern, Accountable, Responsive and Transparent services.

Under retrofitting of the area chosen for development through necessary interventions, works proposed to be taken relate to rejuvenation of ghats and temples, ensuring assured supply of power and water, waste management, improvement of waterways, development of 11 parks, smart multi-level parking spaces, cultural-cum-convention centre, Kahsi Kala Dham, Town Hall, Silpi Haat, Centre of Excellence with Hall of Fame, Light and Sound Show, Night Bazar, rejuvenation of water bodies, pedestrian pathways, Non-motorised transport, Energy Efficient Street Lighting etc, underground cabling, improved sign boards etc.

With citizens voting for improving of city governance and quick urban mobility as the two priorities for technology based Pan-city Solutions, the Varanasi Municipal Corporation has proposed Optic Fibre Connectivity across the city, online payment of utility bills and service delivery, intelligent traffic management systems including GPS on buses, e-booking of boats, guides, taxis etc, CCTV based monitoring and surveillance, e-Suvidha centres, information delivery on Mobile Apps, Smart Card for all services etc.

Public-Private Partnership (PPP) model has been proposed for smart multi-level parking spaces, upgradation of stadium, Internet Modal Hubs, battery operated buses, e-auto for last mile connectivity etc.

The Smart City Plan of Varanasi aims at increasing tourist inflow by over 25% and increase in revenue generation from international tourists and pilgrims by over 30%.

In addition to the support from central and state government, costs of Varanasis smart city proposal are to be met with resources of Rs.1,290 cr through convergence of various schemes, Rs.505 cr from the Corporations own resources and Rs.140 cr from PPP.

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Cabinet approves extension of the validity of Central Orders in respect of edible oils & edible oilseeds, pulses
Sep 21,2016

The Union Cabinet under the Chairmanship of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval for extension of the validity of the existing Central Orders dated 28.09.2015 in respect of edible oils and edible oilseeds and Central Order No. S.O. No. 2857(E) dated 18.10.2015 in respect of pulses for a further period of one year from 01.10.2016 to 30.09.2017.

The main objective of the decision is to enable the State Governments to issue control orders with the prior concurrence of Central Government, for fixing stock limits/licensing requirements in respect of pulses, oilseeds and edible oils, whenever need is felt by them. This is expected to help in the efforts being taken to improve the availability of these commodities to general public especially the vulnerable sections and control the tendencies of hoarding and profiteering.

Background:

Vide Central Governments Order dated 15.2.2002, certain categories of foodstuffs were removed from the licensing, stock limits and movement restrictions. From time to time thereafter, Government has been issuing notifications with the approval of the Cabinet, amending/keeping in abeyance the operation of the 2002 Order, whenever there is any abnormal price rise in any of the specified food commodities, for certain period. Restrictions regarding pulses were first imposed in August 2006 and are extended from time to time. Oils and oilseeds were added later in April, 2008 and the same were extended from time to time. The validity of the current Order is expiring on 30.9.2016 seeking further extension considering the prevailing current situation.

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Cabinet approves conversion of Government of India loan into equity and waiver of interest in respect of Richardson & Cruddas (1972)
Sep 21,2016

The Union Cabinet under the Chairmanship of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved the proposal of Department of Heavy Industry for enabling M/s Richardson & Cruddas (1972) Limited (R&C), a Central Public Sector Enterprise, to come out of purview of Board for Industrial and Financial Reconstruction (BIFR). For this purpose Cabinet approved the conversion into equity of the Government of India loan of Rs 101.78 crores given to the Company, alongwith the interest amounting to Rs 424.81 Crore accrued on this loan.

The Cabinet further approved in principle, the strategic disinvestment of Nagpur and Chennai units of the Company and shifting of operations from Mumbai land to other locations of company. However the Companys land at Mumbai will be converted from lease hold to Occupation Class II so as to enable the company to identify the best use of this piece of land for optimal utilization as per Government guidelines.

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Cabinet approves provision of submarine optical fibre cable connectivity between mainland (Chennai) and Andaman & Nicobar Islands
Sep 21,2016

The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, has given its approval for provision of a direct communication link through a dedicated submarine Optical Fibre Cable (OFC) between Mainland (Chennai) and Port Blair & five other islands viz. Little Andaman, Car Nicobar, Havelock, Kamorta and Great Nicobar.

The estimated cost of the project is Rs. 1102.38 crore including operational expenses for 5 years. The project is likely to be completed by December 2018.

The approval would equip Andaman & Nicobar Islands (ANI) with appropriate bandwidth and telecom connectivity for implementation of e-Governance initiatives; establishment of enterprises & e-commerce facilities. It will also enable the provision of adequate support to educational institutes for knowledge sharing, availability of job opportunities and fulfil the vision of Digital India.

Background:

The Andaman and Nicobar Islands are of immense strategic significance for India. The geographical configuration and the location of the Andaman & Nicobar Islands chain in the Bay of Bengal safeguard Indias eastern seaboard. Provision of secure, reliable, robust, and affordable telecom facilities in these islands is of importance from a strategic point of view to the country and also an important requirement for the socio-economic development of the islands.

Currently the only medium of providing telecom connectivity between Mainland and Andaman & Nicobar Islands is though satellites, but the bandwidth available is limited to 1 Gbps. Satellite bandwidth is very costly and its availability is limited due to which future bandwidth requirement cannot be met solely through it. Then, there is an issue of redundancy, that is, no alternate media is available in case of any emergency. Lack of bandwidth and telecom connectivity is also hampering socio-economic development of the islands. Hence it is essential to have submarine OFC connectivity between the Mainland India and Andaman & Nicobar Islands, being the only option for catering to projected future bandwidth requirements.

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Cabinet approves enactment of Admiralty (Jurisdiction and Settlement of Maritime Claims) Bill 2016 and to repeal five archaic admiralty statutes
Sep 21,2016

The Union Cabinet under the Chairmanship of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval to the proposal of Ministry of Shipping to enact Admiralty (Jurisdiction and Settlement of Maritime Claims) Bill 2016 and to repeal five archaic admiralty statutes.

The Bill consolidates the existing laws relating to admiralty jurisdiction of courts, admiralty proceedings on maritime claims, arrest of vessels and related issues. It also repeals five obsolete British statues on admiralty jurisdiction in civil matters, namely, (a) the Admiralty Court Act, 1840 (b) the Admiralty Court Act, 1861, (c) Colonial Courts of Admiralty Act, 1890, (d) Colonial Courts of Admiralty (India) Act, 1891, and (e) the provisions of the Letters Patent, 1865 applicable to the admiralty jurisdiction of the Bombay, Calcutta and Madras High Courts.

Salient Features of Admirability Bill, 2016

This legislative proposal will fulfil a long-standing demand of the maritime legal fraternity. The salient features are as follows:-

n++ The Bill confers admiralty jurisdiction on High Courts located in coastal states of India and this jurisdiction extends upto territorial waters.

n++ The jurisdiction is extendable, by a Central Government notification, upto exclusive economic zone or any other maritime zone of India or islands constituting part of the territory of India.

n++ It applies to every vessel irrespective of place of residence or domicile of owner.

n++ Inland vessels and vessels under construction are excluded from its application but the Central Government is empowered to make it applicable to these vessels also by a notification if necessary.

n++ It does not apply to warships and naval auxiliary and vessels used for non-commercial purposes.

n++ The jurisdiction is for adjudicating on a set of maritime claims listed in the Bill.

n++ In order to ensure security against a maritime claim a vessel can be arrested in certain circumstances.

n++ The liability in respect of selected maritime claims on a vessel passes on to its new owners by way of maritime liens subject to a stipulated time limit.

n++ In respect of aspects on which provisions are not laid down in the Bill, the Civil Procedure Code, 1908 is applicable.

Background:

India is a leading maritime nation and maritime transportation caters to about ninety-five percent of its merchandise trade volume. However, under the present statutory framework, the admiralty jurisdiction of Indian courts flow from laws enacted in the British era. Admiralty jurisdiction relates to powers of the High Courts in respect of claims associated with transport by sea and navigable waterways. The repealing of five admiralty statutes is in line with the Governments commitment to do away with archaic laws which are hindering efficient governance.

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Union Cabinet approves raising extra budgetary resources to augment infrastructure spending
Sep 21,2016

The Union Cabinet under the Chairmanship of Prime Minister has given its approval for raising a total of Rs 31,300 crore in the financial year 2016-17 and to service the principal and interest against the Extra Budgetary Resources (EBR) of Rs 16,300 crore by Government of India to augment infrastructure spending.

Out of the EBR of Rs 31,300 crore, it is proposed to finance the funds to be raised by Power Finance Corporation (PFC), Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency (IREDA), Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI), and National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) by Government of India.

This implies that the principal and the interest in respect of the EBR of Rs 16,300 crore to be raised by PFC, IREDA, IWAI, and NABARD shall be financed by Government of India by making suitable budget provisions in the Demand of respective Ministries/Departments.

The move is intended to supplement the efforts of the Government to improve infrastructure spending and to improve the revenue-capital mix of the expenditure for a more sustainable growth.

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Cabinet approves Capital Grant to GAIL for development of Gas Infrastructure in Eastern part of the country
Sep 21,2016

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved viability gap funding / partial capital grant at 40 percent (Rs. 5,176 crore) of the estimated capital cost of Rs. 12,940 crore to GAIL for development of 2539 km long Jagdishpur-Haidia and Bokaro-Dhamra Gas Pipeline (JHBDPL) project. Government of India has taken this historic decision to provide Capital Support for developing this gas pipeline. JHBDPL project will connect Eastern part of the country with National Gas Grid.

It will ensure the availability of clean and eco-friendly fuel i.e. Natural Gas to the industrial, commercial, domestic and transport sectors in the States of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha and West Bengal. This Capital Grant will encourage the supply of eco-friendly fuel at affordable tariffs to industries and will encourage industrial development in these states.

Further, the CCEA has approved the simultaneous development of City Gas Distribution (CGD) networks in cities namely Varanasi, Patna, Ranchi, Jamshedpur, Bhubaneswar, Kolkata, Cuttack etc. en-route of JHBDPL project. These distribution networks will be developed by GAIL in collaboration with the concerned State Governments.

It will bring clean cooking fuel at the door step of Domestic households as well as provide clean fuel to transport sector in the eastern region. About 1.25 crore population living in these cities will be directly benefitted by the establishment of these CGD networks. All these projects will generate direct as well as indirect employment for about 21,000 people and will boost socio-economic development in the eastern part of the country.

Cabinet earlier had approved the revival of three Fertiliser Units (FCIL- Gorakhpur, HFCL- Barauni and FCIL-Sindri) along the route of this pipeline project. On revival, these units will be the anchor gas customers for JHBDPL project and gas to these plants will be supplied under the Gas Pooling Scheme for urea sector at pooled price.

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CCEA approves winding up of Hindustan Diamond Company
Sep 21,2016

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA), chaired by the Prime Minister has given its approval for initiating the process of winding up of Hindustan Diamond Company (HDCPL), a 50:50 joint venture of the Government of India and De Beers Centenary Mauritius (DBCML).

The HDCPL was incorporated under the Companies Act, 1956 in 1978. The objective of formation of the Company was to supply rough diamonds to diamond processing industry in India, particularly to small and medium diamond jewellery exporters, who had no direct access to rough diamonds from Diamond Trading Company (DTC), London, the marketing arm of De Beers who held a very large chunk of worlds rough diamonds market.

The winding up of HDCPL is not likely to affect supply of rough diamonds to Indian diamantaires as Indian diamond industry has grown in these years and several Indian players are sightholders with top diamond producers now. Also, with the objective to facilitate the constant supply of rough diamonds and to make India an International Diamond Trading Hub, the Government has created a Special Notified Zone (SNZ) at Bharat Diamond Bourse, Mumbai in 2015. At present viewing operations are being carried out in the SNZ at Mumbai wherein Foreign Mining Companies (FMCs) only display their rough diamond lots to the Indian manufacturers and then take them back. Thereafter the sales are carried through e-auction from offices situated in other countries to Indian manufacturers. This facility has enabled even smaller Indian players to have direct access of supply of rough diamonds.

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National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test - Post Graduate (Dental) (NEET-MDS)
Sep 21,2016

The National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test for entrance to MDS Courses in terms of Section 10 of the Dentists Act, 1948 as amended in 2016 shall be conducted by the National Board of Examinations.

1. The examination shall be held in 86 test centers at 41 cities from November 30th - December 3rd, 2016. The examination shall be held as a Computer Based Test and shall comprise of 240 Multiple Choice Questions from the BDS curriculum followed at dental colleges in India duly prescribed as per the Graduate Dental Education Regulation notified by Dental Council of India with prior approval of the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India.

2. NEET-MDS is a single window entrance examination for entry to Dental post graduate courses. No other examination either at state level or institutional level entrance examination conducted by dental colleges /institutions shall be valid as per the Dentists Act, 1948 with effect from 2017 admission session.

3. Scope of Examination: NEET-MDS 2017 shall be the single eligibility cum entrance examination namely National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test for admission to Postgraduate Dental Courses for the academic session 2017-2018 which will include the following:

i. All India 50% quota seats for MDS courses (all states except Andhra Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir and Telangana)

ii. State quota seats for MDS courses for all States/Union territories of India (including the states of Andhra Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir and Telangana)

iii. MDS Diploma courses at all Private Dental Colleges, Institutions & Universities all across the country

iv. MDS courses at Armed Forces Medical Services Institutions.

4. The website for NEET-MDS shall be available with effect from 24/09/2016 and online registration for the NEET-MDS shall commence from 0700hrs on 26/09/2016 till 31/10/2016 (23:59hrs). The entire procedure for registration and application for the examination is online.

5. A toll free number 1XXX XX 1700 is available with effect from 26/09/2017. Further details about the exam shall be available at www.nbe.edu.in

The AIIMS, New Delhi Dental institution is not covered by centralized admissions for MDS seats through NEET-MDS for 2017 session.

National Board of Examinations is an autonomous organization established by Government of India in 1982 with prime objective of conducting post graduate examinations on all India basis.

National Board of Examinations also conducted the NEET-PG for MD/MS/PG Diploma admissions in 2013 and All India Post Graduate Medical Entrance Examination (AIPGMEE) during the period 2014 - 2016.

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Will take 126 years for India to reach education standards of developed nations: ASSOCHAM Paper
Sep 21,2016

India does have ambitions to reach the level of developed nations in education, but it will take at least six generations or 126 years to scale up to the top standard , if the country continues at its present pace in one of the most vital sectors, an ASSOCHAM Paper has said.

n++Though India has made rapid strides, the yawning gap between the standards of education does not seem to bridge soon as the developed world has not slowed down spending on educationn++, the paper noted.

It said with India spending mere 3.83 per cent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on education, it is not sufficient to catch up. n++It will take six generations or 126 years to catch up with developed countries if we do not change our education system dramaticallyn++.

The US spends 5.22 per cent of its GDP on education, whereas for Germany it is 4.95 per cent and UK 5.72 per cent. n++With the GDP base of these developed counties so high, the absolute money earmarked for education is huge. For instance the size of the US GDP would be something like seven times the size of the Indian GDP and then on top of it, its ratio on education on a higher base would be very significantn++, said ASSOCHAM Secretary General Mr D S Rawat said.

The ASSOCHAM Paper also noted, however, that India has a resource constraint, but then, the country must catch up to reach the levels of spending as recommended by the United Nations, which wants countries to spend at least six per cent of their GDP on education.

If India steps up its resource commitment to education, it can really become a major source of talent to the rest of the world, given the demographic advantage it has. With 315 million students, it has the largest pupil population in the world, besides being the youngest country.

Shortages of quality teachers are among the major challenges for the education sector, the paper said. At present, the shortage of teachers has been measured at 1.4 million. Besides 20 per cent of the teachers do not measure up to the standards of the National Council for Teachers Education (NCTE).

Also, due to absence of focus on effective skill development, India is one of the least skilled countries. n++Majority of the college graduates and post graduates have employability challengesn++. This is ironical because India has a surplus work force but it is not skilled enough.

n++In our country only 4.7 per cent of the work force has any formal training, whereas this figure is 80 per cent for Japan, 95 per cent for South Korea, 75 per cent for Germany, 68 per cent for UK and 52 per cent for the USn++.

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Silent Revolution on within govt. for path-breaking reforms, GST likely to be implemented as schedule: Cabinet Secretary
Sep 21,2016

The Cabinet Secretary Mr. Pradeep Kumar Sinha re-assured India and its trade and business including international community, emphasizing that the goods and services tax (GST) and other path breaking reforms that the government has committed to its people will be implemented as promised since it is working overtime to accomplish the targets.

Addressing a Chief Secretaries Conclave- Accelerate Ease of Doing Business to the Next Orbit organized by the PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry here today, Mr. Sinha also stressed n++a silent revolution is underway and despite teething problems, India would move on to accomplish the objectives and targets set in by its government in all sectors of economic activities with increased participations of all stakeholders to further improve the spirit of governancen++.

n++The entire infrastructure sector, be it roads, civil aviation, energy, conventional and non-convention, power and petroleum including railways and host of other areas in infrastructure have improved their performance as per targets and the civil aviation sector has begun to grow at the rate of 20%, pausing a serious challenge to railways in terms of its trafficn++, pointed out Mr. Sinha.

Referring to the GST implementation roadmap, the Cabinet Secretary exuded confidence that since government has been working overtime to make sure that the path breaking legislation is implemented as per intended deadline.

The stuck-up projects have already been facilitated for implementation in all segments of Indian economy and whatever remaining needed to be done would be completed as the government has turned out much more serious for its projects implementation in comparison with past practices, concluded Mr. Sinha.

President, PHD Chamber, Dr. Mahesh Gupta demanded for enactment of laws that would lead to de-criminalization of business activities as also sought that practices be put in place so that entry into business and exit from it becomes hassel free.

Secretary General, PHD Chamber, Mr. Saurabh Sanyal complimented the government of the day on moving in right direction to smoothen ease of doing business as it would empower the entrepreneurs and make Indian economy reach double digit growth trajectory.

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Amritsar tops the list of 27 new smart cities
Sep 21,2016

The Golden Temple city of Amritsar topped the list of 27 new smart cities announced by the Minister of Urban Development Shri M.Venkaiah Naidu here today. Eight other cities of pilgrim and tourism importance that made  to the third list of smart cities are ; Ujjain, Tirupati, Agra, Nashik, Madurai, Thanjavur, Ajmer and Varanasi. With this the number of cities selected under Smart City Mission for financing implementation of smart city plans has gone up to 60.

Announcing the cities that were selected in a competition among 63 cities, Shri Naidu said The willingness and enthusiasm among cities to participate in more than one round of competition is a clear evidence of the urban renaissance set in motion. Competition bases selection has made the cities rediscover themselves as they are undertaking a thorough assessment of gaps in the present levels of infrastructure and service delivery and come out with comprehensive, credible and actionable plans for area based development and technology based Pan-city solutions

The Minister informed that the new 27 smart cities have proposed an investment of Rs.66,883 cr under smart city plans including Rs.42,524 cr under Area Based Development and another Rs.11,379 cr for technology based Pan-city solutions that benefits all the citizens of respective cities. With this, the total investment proposed by the 60 cities selected so far has gone up to Rs.1,44,742 cr, he said.

The 27 cities selected in the latest round of Smart City Challenge competition in order of the marks scored by them are:

S.NoCityState1

Amritsar

Punjab

2

Kalyan-Dombivili

Maharashtra

3

Ujjain

Madhya Pradesh

4

Tirupati

Andhra Pradesh

5

Nagpur

Maharashtra

6

Managaluru

Karnataka

7

Vellore

Tamil Nadu

8

Thane

Maharashtra

9

Gwalior

MP

10

Agra

Uttar Pradesh

11

Nashik

Maharashtra

12

Rourkela

Odisha

13

Kanpur

UP

14

Madurai

Tamil Nadu

15

Tumakuru

Karnataka

16

Kota

Rajasthan

17

Thanjavur

Tamil Nadu

18

Namchi

Sikkim

19

Jalandhar

Punjab

20

Shivamogga

Karnataka

21

Salem

Tamil Nadu

22

Ajmer

Rajasthan

23

Varanasi

UP

24

Kohima

Nagaland

25

Hubbali-Dharwad

Karnataka

26

Aurangabad

Maharashtra

27

Vadodara

Gujarat

The 27 smart cities announced today are from 12 States including 5 from Maharashtra, 4 each from Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, 3 from Uttar Pradesh and 2 each from Punjab and Rajasthan. Nagaland and Sikkim have made it to the smart city list for the first time.

With todays announcement, implementation of smart city plans is now spread over 27 States and UTs, said Shri Venkaiah Naidu. 9 States/UTs still to enter implementation phase are; Uttarakhand, J & K, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Puducherry, Lakshadweep, Daman & Diu and Dadra, Nagar& Haveli.

Stating that Smart City Mission is running ahead of schedule, Shri Venkaiah Naidu informed that the next round of competition to select the remaining 40 cities would begin in January next year.

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