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Current Northeast Budget around Rs 50,000 Cr: Dr Jitendra Singh
Mar 17,2017

Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER), MoS PMO, Personnel, Public Grievances, Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space, Dr Jitendra Singh said that the current budget for Northeast for 2017-18 is around Rs. 50,000 crore which is significantly higher than that in earlier years and is also an indication of high priority that the Modi Government accords to the development of that region.

Dr Jitendra singh said that the 10 % contribution from budget of the each of the 56 non-exempted Union Ministries earmarked for Northeast, amounts in total to over Rs. 43,000 crore which was earlier around Rs. 33,000 crore.

In addition, he said, the Railway budget for Northeast is to the tune of Rs. 5,500 crore, the budget for special roads scheme for Northeast is Rs. 150 crore and the budget for BTC, KAATC & DHATC amounts to about 120 crore. The DoNER Ministry budget, per se, for 2017-18 is also increased up to Rs. 279.45 crore, he added.

Dr Jitendra Singh said, both the pace of the various projects as well as the percentage expenditure of the allocated funds has shown significant rise during the last 3 years, as a result of certain pro-active steps taken by the DoNER Ministry under the leadership of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi. For example, he said, the process of submission of approval of DPRs has been expedited using the help of modern technology and portals. Similarly, he said, the services of Space Centre in Shillong are being solicited for appropriate and accurate preparation of Utilization Certificates without wasting time. Result of this, he said, is that while in April 2016, the amount of around Rs. 1158 crore was pending on account of delayed Utilization Certificates but, as on February 2017, the same pending amount got reduced to Rs. 206.5 crore.

Dr Jitendra Singh appreciated some of the State Governments like Assam and Sikkim which had expedited the pace of various development projects. He said, in order to simplify procedures, he had suggested to the State Governments to constitute their own State Level Empowered Committee (SLEC) to finalize and approve the DPR and send them directly to the concerned Ministry with the Ministry of DoNER functioning as facilitator or adjunct so that the timeline of the process gets shortened.

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National Health Policy, 2017 approved by Cabinet Focus on Preventive and Promotive Health Care & Universal access to good quality health care services
Mar 16,2017

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi in its meeting on 15 March 2017, has approved the National Health Policy, 2017 (NHP, 2017). The Policy seeks to reach everyone in a comprehensive integrated way to move towards wellness. It aims at achieving universal health coverage and delivering quality health care services to all at affordable cost.

This Policy looks at problems and solutions holistically with private sector as strategic partners. It seeks to promote quality of care, focus is on emerging diseases and investment in promotive and preventive healthcare. The policy is patient centric and quality driven. It addresses health security and make in India for drugs and devices.

The main objective of the National Health Policy 2017 is to achieve the highest possible level of good health and well-being, through a preventive and promotive health care orientation in all developmental policies, and to achieve universal access to good quality health care services without anyone having to face financial hardship as a consequence.

In order to provide access and financial protection at secondary and tertiary care levels, the policy proposes free drugs, free diagnostics and free emergency care services in all public hospitals.

The policy envisages strategic purchase of secondary and tertiary care services as a short term measure to supplement and fill critical gaps in the health system.

The Policy recommends prioritizing the role of the Government in shaping health systems in all its dimensions. The roadmap of this new policy is predicated on public spending and provisioning of a public healthcare system that is comprehensive, integrated and accessible to all.

The NHP, 2017 advocates a positive and proactive engagement with the private sector for critical gap filling towards achieving national goals. It envisages private sector collaboration for strategic purchasing, capacity building, skill development programmes, awareness generation, developing sustainable networks for community to strengthen mental health services, and disaster management. The policy also advocates financial and non-incentives for encouraging the private sector participation.

The policy proposes raising public health expenditure to 2.5% of the GDP in a time bound manner. Policy envisages providing larger package of assured comprehensive primary health care through the Health and Wellness Centers. This policy denotes important change from very selective to comprehensive primary health care package which includes geriatric health care, palliative care and rehabilitative care services. The policy advocates allocating major proportion (upto two-thirds or more) of resources to primary care followed by secondary and tertiary care. The policy aspires to provide at the district level most of the secondary care which is currently provided at a medical college hospital.

The policy assigns specific quantitative targets aimed at reduction of disease prevalence/incidence, for health status and programme impact, health system performance and system strengthening. It seeks to strengthen the health, surveillance system and establish registries for diseases of public health importance, by 2020. It also seeks to align other policies for medical devices and equipment with public health goals.

The primary aim of the National Health Policy, 2017, is to inform, clarify, strengthen and prioritize the role of the Government in shaping health systems in all its dimensions- investment in health, organization and financing of healthcare services, prevention of diseases and promotion of good health through cross sectoral action, access to technologies, developing human resources, encouraging medical pluralism, building the knowledge base required for better health, financial protection strategies and regulation and progressive assurance for health. The policy emphasizes reorienting and strengthening the Public Health Institutions across the country, so as to provide universal access to free drugs, diagnostics and other essential healthcare.

The broad principles of the policy is centered on Professionalism, Integrity and Ethics, Equity, Affordability, Universality, Patient Centered & Quality of Care, Accountability and pluralism.

It seeks to ensure improved access and affordability of quality secondary and tertiary care services through a combination of public hospitals and strategic purchasing in healthcare deficit areas from accredited non-n++governmental healthcare providers, achieve significant reduction in out of pocket expenditure due to healthcare costs, reinforce trust in public healthcare system and influence operation and growth of private healthcare industry as well as medical technologies in alignment with public health goals.

The policy affirms commitment to pre-emptive care (aimed at pre-empting the occurrence of diseases) to achieve optimum levels of child and adolescent health. The policy envisages school health programmes as a major focus area as also health and hygiene being made a part of the school curriculum.

In order to leverage the pluralistic health care legacy, the policy recommends mainstreaming the different health systems. Towards mainstreaming the potential of AYUSH the policy envisages better access to AYUSH remedies through co-location in public facilities. Yoga would also be introduced much more widely in school and work places as part of promotion of good health.

The policy supports voluntary service in rural and under-served areas on pro-bono basis by recognized healthcare professionals under a giving back to society initiative.

The policy advocates extensive deployment of digital tools for improving the efficiency and outcome of the healthcare system and proposes establishment of National Digital Health Authority (NDHA) to regulate, develop and deploy digital health across the continuum of care.

The policy advocates a progressively incremental assurance based approach.

Background:

The National Health Policy, 2017 adopted an elaborate procedure for its formulation involving stakeholder consultations. Accordingly, the Government of India formulated the Draft National Health Policy and placed it in public domain on 30th December, 2014. Thereafter following detailed consultations with the stakeholders and State Governments, based on the suggestions received, the Draft National Health Policy was further fine-tuned. It received the endorsement of the Central Council for Health & Family Welfare, the apex policy making body, in its Twelfth Conference held on 27th February, 2016.

The last health policy was formulated in 2002. The socio economic and epidemiological changes since then necessitated the formulation of a New National Health Policy to address the current and emerging challenges.

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Fitch: Fed Embarks on New Phase of Normalization
Mar 16,2017

Fitch Ratings-New York/London-15 March 2017: The US Federal Reserves (the Fed) decision to hike interest rates by 25bps represents the beginning of a new phase of US monetary policy normalization, says Fitch Ratings.

The prediction for three hikes in 2017 in the Federal Open Market Committees (FOMC) December 2016 Summary of Economic Projections was initially met with some skepticism in financial markets. However, by moving rates up again so quickly, the Fed now looks well on track to deliver. Two rate hikes within the space of just over three months and some marginal toughening up of the statement on forward guidance underscore the contrast with the glacial and hesitant approach to unwinding stimulus seen in the past few years. More broadly, Fitch believes that the recent US rate hikes could mark the beginning of a significant shift in the global interest rate environment, with benchmark US policy rates settling higher over the long term than current market expectations.

The decision to raise the Fed Funds target rate to 0.75%-1.00% marks the second rate hike in just over three months. This represents a major acceleration in Fed action. Fitch now expects a total of seven hikes in 2017 and 2018, bringing the policy rate to 2.50%. This contrasts with just two rate hikes in total between the end of 2008 and 2016.

Macro indicators through 2H16 and early 2017 reinforce the likelihood of a pickup in rate normalization over the medium term. GDP growth of 2.6% (annualized) in 2H16 was a significant recovery from 1H16, underpinned by improvements in private investment and industrial output. So far, jobs data this year have also been supportive, with the latest nonfarm payrolls, unemployment and private sector earnings figures all pointing to tightening labor market conditions.

Material fiscal easing should bolster positive domestic demand trends. President Trumps agenda of tax cuts, fiscal stimulus and deregulation in the financial services and other sectors strongly indicates that some level of growth boost is likely. Although the precise form of stimulus remains uncertain, Fitch believes that fiscal policy could add up to 0.3pp to economic growth in both 2017 and 2018. Fitch recently revised up its US growth expectations in recognition of the increased likelihood of fiscal easing, higher private investment and improving global outlook. Fitch forecasts US GDP growth to accelerate to 2.3% and 2.6% in 2017 and 2018, respectively.

Fitch does not believe that the increased pace of Fed rate hikes poses a risk to US economic growth. However, the impact from dollar strengthening could have wider global effects, especially should this result in prolonged monetary policy divergence. US rate rises, combined with fiscal stimulus, at a time when the European Central Bank and Bank of Japan are continuing to pursue ultra-loose monetary policy, should prolong the dollar strengthening trend. Rising rates and dollar strength have historically added to external financing risks for emerging markets.

Fitch believes that market expectations for a permanently lower equilibrium interest rate in the US and the continuation of ultra-loose monetary policy for several more years could be increasingly challenged. This could result in a rapid shift in consensus expectations toward a higher terminal rate and a faster pace of normalization. Notably, market consensus was not expecting a March rate hike as early as last month, although healthy macro data releases and hawkish public statements from FOMC members resulted in a quick shift in expectations ahead of the actual decision.

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Indias services export improves7.9% in February 2017
Mar 16,2017

As per the data released by the Reserve Bank of India, Indias services exports increased 7.9% to US$ 13.57 billion in January 2017 over January 2016. Meanwhile, Indias services imports surged 22.9% to US$ 8.41 billion in January 2017.

Indias services trade surplus narrowed 10.0% to US$ 5.16 billion in January 2017 from US$ 5.73 billion in January 2016.

Indias services trade surplus fell 9.8% to US$ 53.48 billion in April-January FY2017 over a year ago, with 13.2% rise in services imports to US$ 79.97 billion. Indias services exports rose mere 2.7% to US$ 133.44 billion in April-January 2017.

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Indias merchandise exports improves 17.5% in February 2017
Mar 16,2017

Indias merchandise exports increased 17.5% to US$ 24.49 billion in February 2017 over a year ago. Meanwhile, merchandise imports moved up 21.8% to US$ 33.39 billion. The trade deficit jumped 35.3% to US$ 8.90 billion in February 2017 from US$ 6.54 billion in February 2016.

Oil imports zoomed 60.0% to US$ 7.68 billion, while the non-oil imports also gained 13.6% to US$ 25.71 billion in February 2017 over February 2016. The share of oil imports in total imports was higher at 23.0% in February 2017, compared with 17.5% in February 2016. Indias basket of crude oil surged 79.7% to US$ 54.86 per barrel in February 2017 over February 2016.

Among the non-oil imports, the major contributors to the overall rise in imports were petroleum products imports rising 60.0% to US$ 7.68 billion, gold 147.6% to US$ 3.48 billion, coal, coke & briquettes 32.9% to US$ 1.63 billion, electronic goods 12.2% to US$ 3.44 billion, organic & inorganic chemicals 22.5% to US$ 1.40 billion, metaliferrous ores & other minerals 38.6% to US$ 0.70 billion, pearls, precious & semi-precious stones 9.0% to US$ 2.24 billion and pulses 71.4% to US$ 0.43 billion. The imports also improved for vegetable oil by 19.9% to US$ 0.94 billion, silver 269.7% to US$ 0.15 billion, non-ferrous metals 15.6% to US$ 0.77 billion, artificial resins, plastic materials etc 8.5% to US$ 0.90 billion and chemical material & products 11.4% to US$ 0.45 billion.

On the other hand, the imports have declined for electrical & non-electrical machinery by 28.8% to US$ 2.39 billion, transport equipment 15.7% to US$ 1.44 billion, iron & steel 12.7% to US$ 0.95 billion, project goods 47.7% to US$ 0.14 billion, medicinal & pharmaceutical products 7.6% to US$ 0.37 billion, machine tools 8.2% to US$ 0.23 billion, textile yarn fabric, made-up articles 13.9% to US$ 0.11 billion and crude & manufactured fertilisers 7.8% to US$ 0.17 billion in February 2017.

On exports front, the engineering goods recorded an increase in exports by 47.3% to US$ 6.64 billion, followed by gems & jewellery 2.3% to US$ 4.01 billion, petroleum products 27.6% to US$ 2.47 billion, organic & inorganic chemicals 11.3% to US$ 1.28 billion, cotton yarn/fabrics/made-ups, handloom products etc 10.9% to US$ 0.85 billion, rice 41.4% to US$ 0.56 billion, marine products 29.8% to US$ 0.41 billion, and iron ore 1129.2% to US$ 0.20 billion.

However, the exports declined for, drugs & pharmaceuticals by 4.1% to US$ 1.21 billion, electronic goods 10.6% to US$ 0.47 billion, leather & leather products 0.6% to US$ 0.41 billion, tobacco 1.4% to US$ 0.10 billion, cereal preparations & miscellaneous processed items 5.1% to US$ 0.09 billion, jute manufacturing including floor covering 18.2% to US$ 0.02 billion, other cereals 1.8% to US$ 0.01 billion, in February 2017.

Merchandise exports in rupees increased 15.5% to Rs 164270 crore, while imports moved up 19.7% to Rs 223942 crore in February 2017 over February 2016. The trade deficit widened to Rs 59672 crore in February 2017 compared with Rs 44640 crore in February 2016.

Indias merchandise exports rose 2.6% to US$ 245.41 billion, while merchandise imports fell 3.4% to US$ 340.70 billion in April-February 2017. The decline in imports was driven by a 1.7% fall in oil imports to US$ 76.74 billion. Indias merchandise trade deficit declined to US$ 95.29 billion in April-February 2017 from US$ 113.62 billion in April-February 2016.

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More than 69 Thousand Women Covered Under Nai Roshni Scheme Till 31st January During Current Financial Year
Mar 16,2017

The Ministry of Minority Affairs is implementing three specific schemes for the welfare of Minority women under the n++Nai - Roshnin++ for Leadership Development of Minority Women, specially for development of women belonging to notified minority communities namely Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Parsis and Jains, Rs. 14.13 Crore have been released and 69 thousand 150 women have been covered till 31st January during current financial year, Rs. 14.81 crore were released and 58 thousand 725 women were covered in 2015-16, while Rs. 13.78 Crore were released and 71 thousand 75 women were covered in 2014-16. The aim of the scheme is to empower and instill confidence in women by providing knowledge, tool and techniques for interacting with Government system and others at all levels. The scheme is implemented through selected Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) all over the country.

Begum Hazrat Mahal National Scholarship for Meritorious Girls belonging to minorities is implemented through Maulana Azad Education Foundation. Under the scheme Rs. 57.60 Crore were released and 48 thousand girls were covered in 2015-16, while Rs. 54.51 Crore were released and 45 thousand 426 girls were covered in 2014-15.

Mahila Samridhi Yojana is implemented through National Minorities Development & Finance Corporation (NMDFC) wherein skill development training is imparted to group of women in women friendly trades. Training period is of maximum six months and raw material cost of upto Rs.1,500/- per trainee and stipend @ Rs.1000/- per trainee is provided. During the period of training, the women formed into Self Help Group, followed by infusion of micro-credit maximum upto Rs.1.00 lacs per member for the purpose of using the skill developed during the training, for income generation activities.

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Artificial Intelligence is the need of the hour: ASSOCHAM-PwC study
Mar 16,2017

Effectiveness of Artificial Intelligence (AI), machine learning, robotics and cognitive automation in direct proportion bestow rise in the quality and quantity of training data that the systems are exposed to, the conditions are ripe for India to emerge as a leader in AI, said an ASSOCHAM-PwC paper.

India is already on the path of a digital revolution and the next step is utilising the big data generated to take intelligent decisions. This requires close collaboration between academia, the private sector and public sector in order to understand problems holistically and solve them, , the ASSOCHAM-PwC joint study on Artificial Intelligence and Robotics - 2017 noted.

AI augmented manufacturing operations can employ more reliable demand forecasting, a flexible and responsive supply chain, quicker changes in operations, and more accurate scheduling and inventory optimisation. Other benefits involve creation of smarter, quicker and environmentally sound processes. This can lead to increased productivity and quality, lower costs and a more robust health and safety framework.

The application of AI in the field of defence and security includes protection of infrastructure such as airports, power plants and economic sectors that are vulnerable to attacks, detecting anomalous behaviour in individuals, and using distributed sensors and pattern recognition to predict infrastructure disruptions through natural/man-made causes, adds the study.

The security games framework is based on computational game theory, combined with elements of human behaviour modelling. Given the limited security resources and different high value targets, game-based decisions provide a randomised collection or patrolling schedule based on weights of targets and intelligent reactions of adversaries to security postures.

AI shows remarkable potential in aiding control and remedial actions in the aftermath of environmental and man-made disasters. It can assist in optimising mobile networks and smart bandwidth allocation to ensure network service continuity in the midst of catastrophic events that are usually followed by a spike in communication and jammed networks.

Unmanned drones and satellite feeds combined with image processing and recognition can be used in infrastructure damage assessments and predictions based on structural stability and traffic congestion avoidance through adaptive routing while equipping and deploying disaster management teams. Opportunities for AI intervention also reside in processing social media feeds to gauge location-specific urgency and send targeted alerts to minimise loss of life and property, pointed the study.

A key area of AI intervention in logistical operations involves adaptive scheduling of deliveries and routing of vehicles. Advanced logistics and supply chains are being created using expert decision systems. Products can be transported more efficiently through vision-based driver assist and automated/robotic systems. This has made transportation less susceptible to disruptions caused by weather, traffic and unnatural events.

Some of the major areas of application of AI in the banking and financial services sector include early detection of financial risk and systemic failures, and automation to reduce malicious intent in financial systems, such as market manipulation, fraud, anomalous trading and reduction in market volatility and trading costs.

AI can improve the efficiency of operations in the travel and transportation sector by bringing improved safety through structural health monitoring and infrastructure asset management that can pay dividends in terms of reduced cost of repairs and reconstruction and real-time route information, thereby reducing energy usage and emissions.

Agriculture is another sector that can greatly benefit from intelligent solutions by using smarter production, processing, storage, distribution and consumption mechanisms. AI solutions can also help provide site-specific and timely data about crops to enable application of appropriate inputs such as fertilisers and chemicals, highlighted joint study.

Consumer goods and services was one of the initial areas of AI adoption in India and currently accounts for a significant share of private sector application. To enable consumers to find better products at low prices, machine learning algorithms are being deployed for better matching of supply with consumer demand.

Efficient usage of bandwidth and storage, improved filtering, web searches and language translation are some of the benefits of employing AI systems in the communication and social media sector. AI can enhance scientific research and experimentation by assisting scientists and engineers in reading publications and patents, generating hypotheses and testing them through the usage of robotic systems.

Large parts of the country experience a dearth of academicians and teachers when it comes to making education effective for students across a gradient of social and cognitive abilities. AI solutions can meaningfully intervene by means of adaptive tutoring based on the receptiveness of students and accurate gauging of development of students complemented by in-person classroom learning.

Evidence-based treatment and medication require a level of precision that helps patients develop confidence and trust in their doctorsn++an area where mere manual experience and judgment may be supplemented with AI.

With the vast volume of information-processing capabilities required for fields such as bioinformatics, using AI-based algorithms and solutions is inevitable. AI application in healthcare, medicine and biotechnology includes supporting systems to identify genetic risks from large-scale genomic studies, predicting safety and efficacy of newly launched drugs, providing decision support for medical assessments and prescriptions and tailoring drug administration to the individual patient.

Some of the areas where AI can improve legal processes include improved discovery and analysis based on law case history and formulation of legal arguments based on identification of relevant evidence.

Cognitive technologies are being deployed by firms to largely automate the task of going through stacks of documents to identify key terms, which has until now been a time-consuming manual process. NLP technology reads and understands key points in the documents. Machine-learning technology makes it possible to train the system on a set of sample documents so that it learns how to identify and extract information in an automated manner.

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Government to Amend EPF Scheme, 1952 to Enable EPF Members to Withdraw upto 90 Percent Fund for Purchase of House
Mar 16,2017

The Government has taken a decision for modification in the Employees Provident Funds (EPF) Scheme, 1952 to add a new paragraph 68 BD under which a member of Employees Provident Fund (EPF), being a member of a co-operative society or a housing society having at least 10 members of EPF, can withdraw upto 90 per cent from the Fund for purchase of dwelling house/flat or construction of dwelling house/acquisition of site. Monthly installments for repayments of any outstanding payments or interest may also be paid from the amount standing to the credit of the member, to the Government/housing agency/primary lending agency or banks concerned.

The total number of Employees Provident Fund (EPF) member accounts as on 31 March 2016, as per Annual Report for 2015-16, is 17.14 crore. On an average, contributions have been received in respect of 3.76 crore members during the year 2015-16. The withdrawal facility from the Provident Fund (PF) account under the Scheme will be available to only those PF members who fulfill the conditions prescribed.

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Rs. 31734 Crore Collected as Construction Workers Welfare Cess till 31st December 2016
Mar 16,2017

Rs. 31733.76 crore have been collected as Construction Workers Welfare Cess by the States/UTs upto 31.12.2016, at the rate of 1% of the cost of construction. Out of it Rs. 6872.51 crore has been spent.

The Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Cess Act, 1996, provides for levy and collection of cess at such rate not exceeding two per cent but not less than one per cent of the cost of construction as the Central Government may notify. The cess has been levied and being collected at the rate of 1% of the cost of construction as notified by the Central Government in the Official Gazette.

The cess at the above rate is collected by the State Governments/ Union Territory Administrations and utilized for the welfare of the building and other construction workers by the State Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Boards constituted by the State Governments/Union Territory Administrations under the Building and Other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1996.

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Boost to Education: Cabinet approves setting up of 50 new Kendriya Vidyalayas in the country under Civil / Defence Sector
Mar 16,2017

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by the Prime Minister ShriNarendra Modihas approved the proposal for opening of 50 new Kendriya Vidyalayas (KVs) under Civil / Defence Sector in the country keeping in view the high demand for these schools for their quality of education and excellent results.

The total project cost based on Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan (KVS) norms for the proposed 50 new KVs is Rs.1160 crore.

New KVs will be opened from classes I to V for which 650 regular posts shall be created in all 50 Kendriya Vidyalayas. The school grows every year with addition of one more higher class and, when the school grows upto class XII and becomes a full fledged school with two sections in each class, there shall be a requirement of about 4000 regular posts of various categories i.e., about 2900 teaching posts and about 1100 non-teaching posts. These new KVs when fully functional will provide quality education to approximately 50,000 students in addition to the approximately 12 lakh students already studying in present KVs.

The new KVs will address the educational needs of eligible students with high quality standards and will play a role of pace-setting educational institutions in the districts concerned.

Background:

The main objective of KVS is to cater to the educational needs of children of transferable Central Government employees including Defence and Para-military personnel by providing a common programme of education. There are at present 1142 functional KendriyaVidyalayas under the KVS including three abroad at Moscow, Kathmandu and Tehran.

The KendriyaVidyalayas are considered as model schools in the country in terms of physical infrastructure, teaching resources, curriculum and academic performance. KendriyaVidyalayas as pace setting schools have consistently turned out excellent academic performance as is evident from the Board Results of Class X and XII exams conducted by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE).

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Cabinet approves sale of 24% equity holding in Lubrizol India Private Limited by Indian Oil to Lubrizol Corporation, USA
Mar 16,2017

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by the Prime Minister ShriNarendra Modi gave its in-principle approval topermit Indian Oil Corporation Limited (Indian Oil) to sell its 24% equity in one of its Joint Venture Companies, M/s. Lubrizol India Private Limited (LIPL) to Lubrizol Corporation, USA (LC), the other Joint Venture Partner.

The sale will enable IOC to have long term association with its joint venture partner and thus LIPL to have access to the latest global additive technologies developed by Lubrizol Corporation, USA.

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Cabinet approves additional 2% Dearness Allowance / Dearness Relief due from January 2017
Mar 16,2017

The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved release of an additional instalment of Dearness Allowance (DA) to Central Government employees and Dearness Relief (DR) to pensioners w.e.f. 01 January 2017. It has increased by 2% over the existing rate of 2% of the Basic Pay/Pension, to compensate for price rise.

This increase is in accordance with the accepted formula, which is based on the recommendations of the 7th Central Pay Commission.

The combined impact on the exchequer on account of both Dearness Allowance and Dearness Relief would be Rs. 5,857.28 crore per annum and Rs.6,833.50 crore in the Financial Year 2017-18 (for a period of 14 months from January, 2017 to February, 2018).

This will benefit about 48.85 lakh Central Government employees and 55.51 lakh pensioners.

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Cabinet approves revised MoU and Mode of Operation between India and Bangladesh for establishing Border Haats on India-Bangladesh Border
Mar 16,2017

The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval to the Revised Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and Mode of Operation (MoO) between India and Bangladesh for establishing Border Haats on India-Bangladesh Border.

The Border Haats aim at promoting the well-being of the people dwelling in remote areas across the borders of two countries, by promoting traditional system of marketing the local produce through local markets. These measures help to improve economic well-being of marginalised sections of society.

Currently four Border Haats are operational, two each in Meghalaya and Tripura, which were established and operationalized under the MoU and Mode of operation of Border Haats earlier signed between Bangladesh and India on 23rd October, 2010, Subsequently, an Addendum to Mode of operation of Border Haats was also signed on 15th May, 2012. The Revised MoU and Mode of Operation will provide a legal framework for establishment and operationalization of additional Border Haats.

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Cabinet approves six laning of Handia-Varanasi section of NH-2 in Uttar Pradesh
Mar 16,2017

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, has given its approval for development of the six laning of Handia-Varanasi section of NH-2 in Uttar Pradesh.

This work will be under the National Highways Development Project (NHDP) Phase-V. The approval is in Hybrid Annuity Mode.

The cost is estimated to be Rs.2,147.33 crore including cost of land acquisition, resettlement and rehabilitation and other pre-construction activities. The total length of the road will be approximately 73 kms.

The project will lead to the improvement of infrastructure in Uttar Pradesh and reduce the time and cost of travel for traffic, particularly heavy traffic, plying on this stretch. The development of this stretch will also help in uplifting the socio-economic condition of the concerned regions of the State and would also increase employment potential for local labourers for project activities. It has been estimated that a total number of 4,076 mandays are required for construction of one kilometre of highways. As such, employment potential of 3,00,000 (approx.) mandays will be generated locally during the construction period of the project.

The project is covered in the region of Handia and Varanasi.

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15 Indian Institutes of Information Technology (IIITs) declared as Institutes of National Importance
Mar 16,2017

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved -

i. Introduction of the Indian Institutes of Information Technology Public Private Partnership (IIIT PPP) Bill, 2017;

ii. To grant statutory status to the fifteen Indian Institutes of Information Technology in Public Private Partnership and declare them as Institutions of National Importance;

iii. To enable these institutions to grant degrees to their students in the academic courses conducted by them.

There is no financial implication with regard to the proposed IIIT PPP Bill, 2017

The Bill will declare the existing Indian Institutes of Information Technology in Public Private Partnership as Institutions of National Importance with powers to award degrees. This will entitle them to use the nomenclature of Bachelor of Technology (B.Tech) or Master of Technology (M.Tech) or Ph.D degree as issued by a University or Institution of National Importance.

The grant of a formal degree in Information Technology, Engineering or Ph.D will enhance the prospects of the graduating students in the job market and will also enable the Institutes to attract enough students required to develop a strong research base in the country in the field of information technology.

The emerging needs of the industry and the economy, as a whole for skilled technical manpower is expected to be met from the talent pool of trained personnel of the institutes.

Every Institute shall be open to all - irrespective of gender, caste, creed, disability, and domicile, and ethnicity, social or economic background. Academic Session has commenced in the following15 Institutes:-

Andhra Pradesh(Chittoor), Assam(Guwahati) Gujarat(Vadodara), Haryana(Sonipat), Himachal Pradesh(Una), Jharkhand(Ranchi), Karnataka(Dharwad), Kerala(Kottayam) Maharashtra (Nagpur & Pune), Manipur(Senapati), Rajasthan (Kota), Tamilnadu(Tiruchirappalli), Uttar Pradesh (Lucknow), Kalyani (West Bengal).

Background

The Scheme of Setting up of 20 new IIITs in Public Private Partnership (IIIT PPP) as approved by the Union Cabinet on 7.12.2010 does not have provision which empowers the Institutes set up in Public Private Partnership to grant degrees to its students. The first batch of under-graduate students enrolled in the Year 2013-14 will be passing out in the Year 2017. Academic Session has started in 15 IIITs.

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