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Vice President Inaugurates International Conference of Ministers of Education of South Asian Countries on ‘Literacy, Peace and Development’

The Vice President of India Shri M. Hamid Ansari has said that the literacy rate among young women is growing at a faster pace than that of young men: In South Asia, the literacy rate for young women and young men grew by 26 and 17 percentage points, respectively, from 1990 to 2011. Thus, at this rate, gender parity in literacy is a distinct possibility in the future. Addressing after inaugurating International Conference of Ministers of Education of South Asian Countries on ‘Literacy, Peace and Development’ here today, he has said that Literacy, peace and development are inextricably interlinked. In the absence of literacy, people get excluded from the benefits of development, while they endure its costs, such as unemployment, lower wages and social insecurity, consequently impacting development itself. He has emphasized that Literacy is a necessary condition for peace to prevail and to tackle the very roots of conflicts arising due to ignorance, intolerance, economic hardship, social injustice, political oppression.

Shri Ansari expressed his concern that Education in South Asia suffers from the twin problem of lack of access and quality. In majority of the SAARC Member Countries, enrolment of children of primary school age has only recently crossed the global level. The problem is compounded by high levels of dropout. Thus literacy rates remain low. Situation at the secondary and tertiary level is no better and in some respects, are even worse. Even those children leaving schools after completing their education are found wanting in the quality of their skills and relevance of their learning, which makes them unemployable in the market. Specifically, Around 398 million adults, almost half of world’s illiterate population, live in South Asia. Women and girls constitute nearly two-thirds of the illiterate adult population, making the magnitude of the problem even greater.


The Vice President has said that in the Indian development model, literacy has been given the highest attention in our policies. It is recognised that education is the single most important instrument for social and economic transformation. A well educated population adequately equipped with knowledge and skill is not only essential to support economic growth, but is also a precondition for growth to be inclusive. It is for this reason that literacy and adult literacy programmes have always been on the development agenda in India. It was this conviction that led to the inclusion of Right to Education as a justiciable fundamental right in our Constitution. This guarantees 8 years of free and compulsory schooling to all children in the age group 6-14. It has been implemented since April 2010.

Following is the text of the Vice President’s address :

“I am happy to be here today for the inauguration of the International Conference on ‘Alliance for Literacy, Peace and Development in South Asia’. The occasion gives the opportunity to reiterate the centrality of literacy for peace, development and empowerment in South Asia. This Conference is timely. Tomorrow, we commemorate the International Literacy Day to recall, and reaffirm, that literacy is a basic human right and a fundamental entitlement of every human being. I take this opportunity to welcome our distinguished guests from fellow SAARC countries and wish them a pleasant and fruitful stay in Delhi.

Our region, which is home to almost 1.3 billion people, is full of untapped potential and immense possibilities for building modern and prosperous societies in our respective countries. We are endowed with abundance of quality resources – human, natural and physical. Some of our people are at the cutting edge of scientific and technological research and in the front ranks of the knowledge society the world over.

At the same time, our teeming millions continue to face daunting challenges of abject poverty, widespread ignorance, hunger, disease and homelessness. The World Bank projects that by 2015 Southern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa will each be home to about 40 per cent of the developing world population, living in extreme poverty at less than $1.25 per day.

While each one of our countries is working on its own towards socio-economic upliftment of its masses through inclusive and sustainable growth and development, it must be recognised that in other parts of the world, notably Europe and Southeast Asia, regional cooperation and integration has proved to be an effective instrument in promoting peace, progress and prosperity in that region and its member states.

The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation has been in existence for almost three decades but the physical and economic integration of our region has not progressed to the desired extent for various reasons. We need to accept that we cannot afford to miss out on the benefits of regional cooperation, as it is clearly a ‘win-win’ proposition for all.

We share the same geography. We also have a shared history. We enjoy strong cultural affinity based on vibrant exchange of peoples, goods and ideas amongst us over the centuries. A common future of mutually beneficial cooperation and shared prosperity is the logical destination. It is, therefore, incumbent upon us to work together towards realising our destiny of peace, progress and prosperity for our peoples, based on our collective vision of regional cooperation.

It is universally acknowledged that education and literacy are essential for eliminating poverty, reducing infant mortality, curbing population growth, achieving gender parity and ensuring sustainable development, peace and democracy. South Asia is confronted by these very challenges. Hence the importance of education and literacy in bringing about social and economic transformation of our societies cannot be overstated.

Former Secretary General of the United Nations Kofi Annan had rightly observed that ‘education is a human right with immense power to transform. On its foundation rest the cornerstones of freedom, democracy and sustainable human development’. It is in this context that the theme of this Conference is pertinent and timely.

Education in South Asia suffers from the twin problem of lack of access and quality. In majority of the SAARC Member Countries, enrolment of children of primary school age has only recently crossed the global level. The problem is compounded by high levels of dropout. Thus literacy rates remain low. Situation at the secondary and tertiary level is no better and in some respects, are even worse. Even those children leaving schools after completing their education are found wanting in the quality of their skills and relevance of their learning, which makes them unemployable in the market.

Specifically, Around 398 million adults, almost half of world’s illiterate population, live in South Asia. Women and girls constitute nearly two-thirds of the illiterate adult population, making the magnitude of the problem even greater.

Enrolled children must also complete primary school to master, at a minimum, basic literacy and numeracy skills. But in South Asia, one third of students enrolled in the first grade will leave school before reaching the last grade of the primary school, primarily due to poverty.

The Heads of State or Government of SAARC countries at the Ninth Summit at Male´ in 1997 acknowledged that illiteracy was one of the major causes impeding the development of the vast human resources of South Asia and a major factor contributing to the region’s economic backwardness and social imbalance.

While some cooperation in education sector has been undertaken under the umbrella of SAARC, a lot more needs to be done before benefits of such cooperation bear fruit for the betterment and welfare of our people.

Factual data puts matters in perspective. The UN’s Millennium Development Goal Number 2 required achieving universal primary education by 2015. As against this, developing regions have made impressive strides in expanding access to primary education, with the adjusted net enrolment rate growing from 83 per cent in 2000 to 90 per cent in 2011. In 2011, 57 million children of primary school age world over were out of school, down from 102 million in 2000.

South Asia’s progress in this regard has been better. The adjusted net enrolment rate of children of primary school age increased from 78 per cent to 93 per cent between 2000 and 2011. Almost half the reduction in the global number of children out of school can be attributed to our region, where the number of such children fell from a high of 38 million in 2000 to 12 million in 2011.

The last two decades have witnessed steady progress of literacy among both youth and adults. In South Asia, the literacy rate in the age group 15-24 years the figure increased from 60 to 81 percent between 1990 and 2011.

The literacy rate among young women is growing at a faster pace than that of young men: In South Asia, the literacy rate for young women and young men grew by 26 and 17 percentage points, respectively, from 1990 to 2011. Thus, at this rate, gender parity in literacy is a distinct possibility in the future.

Literacy, peace and development are inextricably interlinked. In the absence of literacy, people get excluded from the benefits of development, while they endure its costs, such as unemployment, lower wages and social insecurity, consequently impacting development itself.

Literacy is a necessary condition for peace to prevail and to tackle the very roots of conflicts arising due to ignorance, intolerance, economic hardship, social injustice, political oppression.

More importantly, illiteracy undermines democratic processes, promotes intolerance, sectarianism and discrimination. On the other hand, literacy promotes social cohesion, intercultural understanding, tolerance and mutual respect.

A literate citizenry is indispensable to participative governance and democracy as it equips the individual to effectively engage with democratic institutions, make independent political choices and exercise citizenship rights. It stimulates healthy informed dialogue and debate that are so crucial to democratic societies. This is well illustrated in Amartya Sen’s concept of human development, which points out that human development must go hand in hand with freedom of expression, and it is the role of education to help the individual achieve this freedom.

An important aspect is the literacy amongst women and their educational advancement. It is critical for their social and economic empowerment, greater participation in public life and gender equality. This has a moral imperative apart from the constitutional one. It has been rightly said, “Educate a boy, and you educate an individual. Educate a girl, and you educate a community.”

In a globalized and interconnected world, our countries are becoming more vulnerable to competition from all corners of the global village. Establishment of knowledge-based societies on the foundation of education and literacy is an essential to prepare us to face these emerging challenges in this century.

In the Indian development model, literacy has been given the highest attention in our policies. It is recognised that education is the single most important instrument for social and economic transformation. A well educated population adequately equipped with knowledge and skill is not only essential to support economic growth, but is also a precondition for growth to be inclusive. It is for this reason that literacy and adult literacy programmes have always been on the development agenda in India.

It was this conviction that led to the inclusion of Right to Education as a justiciable fundamental right in our Constitution. This guarantees 8 years of free and compulsory schooling to all children in the age group 6-14. It has been implemented since April 2010.

Despite our achievements in the field of literacy, several challenges remain in terms of access to education; retention of students; quality of education; skill development to match employability; inclusion of marginalised and deprived sections of society; availability of quality infrastructure and trained teachers; to name a few.

A number of steps have been taken by the Government to promote total literacy and universalise elementary and secondary education in the country. Programes are also underway to strengthen higher/technical education by expanding the existing capacities and creating new ones. It is envisioned that strengthening the two ends of the spectrum, namely, elementary education and higher/technical education would help in meeting the objectives of expansion, inclusion and excellence in education.

One such programme, the National Literacy Mission, launched by Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1986, galvanised the country, making it a mass movement involving civil society, NGOs and ordinary citizens, besides the government. As many as 12 million volunteers reached nearly 130 million new learners, a stupendous feat by any reckoning.

The results have been noteworthy. Between 1981 and 2011, as the National Literacy Mission gathered momentum, literacy rate has increased from a mere 44 per cent to 74 per cent of the population. However, much more needs to be done. Having 26% of our population still classified as illiterate in the 21st century is unacceptable. We also have regional variations. While in a few states literacy levels are at par with those prevailing in developed countries, in others it is still unacceptably low, especially female literacy levels. This also has to be addressed with urgency.

The National Literacy Mission has emerged as an important tool in our development strategy to promote social inclusion through education. To give fillip to attainment of this objective, a new variant of the NLM ‘Saakshar Bharat’ or (Literate India) programme was initiated. Through it, we plan to cover all adults in rural India in the age group of 15 years and beyond, with primary focus on women. This has grown to become the world’s largest adult literacy programme, aiming to impart literacy to 60 million non-literate women and 10 million non-literate men by 2017. So far, 20 million adults have been declared literate under this programme.

The good work being done under ‘Saakshar Bharat’ has been recognized by experts and it is being conferred UNESCO’s King Sejong Literacy Prize for this year. I congratulate all the stakeholders involved in the programme and wish them continued success.

India is committed to strengthen and broaden partnerships with governments, private sector and civil society to promote the cause of literacy in South Asia. We are ready to share our experiences and expertise in this field with all our neighbours and friends.

I take this opportunity to call for enhanced cooperation in the field of literacy and education among the South Asian countries. I am confident through mutual cooperation involving sharing of experiences, lessons learnt and best practices we can together fight the scourge of illiteracy, remove ignorance from our midst and build modern, educated and enlightened societies in our countries, the region and beyond.

Nelson Mandela called education the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world. Through literacy and education for all, let us strive to ensure that our societies remain enriched by the best traditions of their own culture and heritage and yet remain open to the light of science and progressive thought.

I thank the organisers for having invited me and wish the participants of the Conference all success in their deliberations.”

*****


Preliminary transcript of PM’s on-board briefing en route from St. Petersburg G-20 Summit
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The Group of 20 is, on the international plane, an essay in persuasion. In that context, I believe we had a very successful G 20 meeting. The Leaders’ Declaration and the St. Petersburg Action Plan are in line with the position we had advocated in the meeting. You have seen the documents. So I won’t attempt to summarise their contents, but I would be happy to answer questions. We also had a very useful BRICS meeting. The Leaders confirmed that agreement has been reached on the 100 billion dollar Currency Reserve Arrangement. There is also progress on the BRICS Bank which will lead to a concrete proposal by the next BRICS meeting. On the sidelines of the Summit, I had a brief discussion with the Prime Minister of Japan and the Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister of Japan and we have agreed to raise the limit of the swap arrangement between our two countries from 15 billion dollars to 50 billion dollars. This is something by way of a second line of defense for our currency.
Q: What are the important take-aways for India from the G20?
Ans: As I said, G20 is at the international level an essay in persuasion about good practices. The Leaders’ Declaration and the Action Programme reflect our concerns that the world economy is not in good shape, that all countries who have influence in global affairs must work together to revive the growth process. In particular, we have been arguing at Los Cabos that infrastructure development is a commodity which can contribute to revival of growth as well as acceleration of the development process. And that is reflected in the Action Programme and also in the statements that were made by the President of the World Bank that they are working on a world infrastructure financing facility. If that comes about it will certainly help us greatly.
Q- What kind of role do you see BRICS playing in the world economy and India’s contribution to it as well?
Ans: BRICS is an important factor in the world economy because China, Russia, South Africa, Brazil and India together command a significant proportion of the GDP and trade of the world, and therefore, whatever happens inside or to the development process in these countries has an influence all over the world. I mentioned that as concrete acts the BRICS countries have agreed to a 100 billion dollar currency reserve arrangement. There is also an agreement to start a BRICS bank with 50 billion dollars and the concrete proposal is now being finalized and will be brought before the next Summit of the BRICS.
Q: The Japanese swap enhancement to 50 billion dollars and 100 billion BRICS contingency reserve fund, do you think together these two will have a calming effect on the markets of Indian currency and what should be done domestically to take care of current account deficit?
Ans: On the margins, certainly, what we have agreed with Japan will help, but ultimately, we have to get the fundamentals of our economy in robust health. The last week, Parliament has passed some important legislation, economic legislation. That will also help to revive confidence and we have to work to ensure that the fiscal deficit does not exceed 4.8% and whatever we can do to contain the current account deficit, will be put in practice.
Q: This is a question on the ‘unconventional monetary policy’ and how they should be tackled because of the impact? The final declaration clause 14 seems to suggest that Central Banks across the world of advanced economies will continue to be dictated by domestic considerations including price stability? Was your point of view therefore a point found resonance within the G20. And what can we expect as far as rollback taperingis concerned?
Ans: There was widespread appreciation of the point that I made about the unintended consequences of unorthodox monetary policies being pursued by countries like the United States and the Euro Zone. But, I also pointed out in my own speech that I don’t see immediate concrete action because Central Banks are the creation of their domestic legislations, some value their independence, some also have a limited mandate. But overall there was general appreciation that when it comes to consultations on global economic policies, macro-economic policies, for example, in the mutual development process, the countries should be discussing how monetary policies are being shaped, what are the concerns and how we can soften the impact on other countries. So I would say that as a general idea, there was widespread appreciation and in fact most developing countries’ leaders made the same point that I made and I expect that as an essay in persuasion it was a good idea and good ideas are scarce in the world. I do believe sooner or later it will catch attention.
Q: How will the Indian economy and markets benefit from your forthcoming visits to the United States, ASEAN, Russia, and China?
Ans: I have important visits lined up later this month to the United States, then next month to Russia, and there are also visits planned to ASEAN and then to China. All these countries are important trading partners, and therefore, whatever we may do in these meetings, they create a climate conducive to accelerating the processes of cooperation. And I, therefore, sincerely hope that my discussions in Washington, in Russia, in China, in Brunei, would certainly help to create, at the margin, a better environment for cooperation between us and these countries in matters relating to trade, in matters relating to investment. And certainly, I think, the visit to the United States, if we do the right things before going there, they will have an influence on the climate for capital flows from the United States to our country.
Q: Exactly 3 weeks from now you will be in New York for the UNGA, the possibility of a meeting with your Pakistani counterpart has been a matter of intense speculation. What are the prospects of such a meeting taking place on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York, specially since there is a view in India that you should avoid meeting Mr. Sharif?
Ans: I have always maintained that we can choose our friends, but we have no choice with regard to our neighbours. And, therefore, under normal conditions, I would be happy to meet with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, whom I respect, who has said the right things about how relations between our two countries should evolve. But, there are certain harsh realities on the ground. If the terror acts do not stop; if those who voice terrorist thoughts move about freely; if there is no significant progress in bringing the culprits of the Mumbai massacre to book; – that I have to factor in before arriving at a final decision.
Q: A woman writer was recently killed in Afghanistan. Does this once again prove that Taliban is raising its head? How have Afghan forces not been able to contain Taliban?
Ans: I was very sad when I heard about the attack on and killing of Sushmita Banerjee. It is a very sad development. She was living in Afghanistan for a long number of years. She was engaged in important social work. So I feel very sad that such a noble person should have been the victim of the Taliban’s wrath. Well, obviously, Afghanistan still is plagued by the Taliban menace. The Government and people of Afghanistan, ultimately, will have to make up their minds, whether the Taliban philosophy, particularly with regard to the role of women in society, is the theme which should decide their approach to life.
Q: You have charged the chief opposition of obstructing Parliament, and hurting the economy. Do you believe that you yourself have sufficiently answered the many questions that the Opposition has raised about your Government and about you in person.
Ans: I try to answer all questions that have been raised. I have no desire to hide anything from Parliament, whether it is the coal matter, or other matters. I have been as forthright as I can. I made a long statement on the coal matters, in the previous session of Parliament. I was not allowed to read that statement, but I did issue that statement. It is a public document. So I am an open book.
Q: Will you go in for an alliance with Mamata Banerjee in the forthcoming Parliamentary Elections in 2014?
Ans: In politics there are no permanent enemies and permanent friends. And in many ways, a week in politics is sometimes an unusually long period of time. So I don’t rule out alliances. Mamata Banerjee was a very respectable member of the Congress party at one time. As the leader of the Trinamul also, we were very happy to have her in our Government. We would very much like like-minded, secular-minded persons should work again to give our country’s polity a thrust in favour of secular elements.
Q: Do you think it is possible for you to go ahead for a third term, because many in the Congress party would like to see Rahul Gandhi to lead the party. Also, why don’t you go ahead and say you are ready for questioning, as you did on the 2G issues?
Ans: I have not prevented anybody from looking at my conduct. As far as your first question is concerned, I have always maintained that Rahul Gandhi ji would be an ideal choice for the Prime Minister’s position after the 2014 election. I would be very happy to work for the Congress party under the leadership of Mr. Rahul Gandhi.
Q: Is Government going to consider separate Vidarbha or division of Maharashtra with Telegana issue?
Ans: There is no such proposal under consideration.
******

SC/SH


Bye-election from 51-Noksen (ST) Assembly Constituency to Nagaland Legislative Assembly – Use of Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) system for the first time by the Commission in Elections
PRESS NOTE

A piece of election history was made in the remote Tuensang district of Nagaland with the successful culmination of counting of votes today, i.e, on 7th September, 2013 for the bye-election to 51-Noksen (ST) Assembly Constituency, where poll was held on 4th September, 2013 using, for the first time ever, the Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) system with Electronic Voting Machines. Under the VVPAT system, newly developed by the Electronics Corporation of India Limited and Bharat Electronic Limited, under the direction of the Election Commission and its Technical Experts Committee, a printer is attached to the balloting unit of the voting machine and is kept along with the balloting unit inside the screened voting compartment. When a voter casts his vote by pressing of the candidate’s button against the name and symbol of the candidate of his choice, apart from the red light glowing against the name and symbol of that candidate, the printer also generates a paper slip containing the serial number, name and symbol of candidate for whom the vote has been cast. This paper slip remains visible to the voter through a window covered by glass on the printer and after sufficient time gets automatically cut and falls into the box permanently attached below the printer. This enables the voter to verify and satisfy himself that the vote cast by him for the candidate of his choice has been actually recorded correctly for that candidate. In case of any doubt, these paper slips can be counted at the time of the counting of votes and tallied with the number of votes recorded in the control unit of the voting machine.


The poll on 4th September, 2013 as well as the counting of votes today went off smoothly and without any problem. At the time of counting, the number of votes displayed in the voting machines against each of the two contesting candidates tallied with the paper slips generated by the printers of the VVPAT system on actual counting of these paper slips.
51-Noksen (ST) Assembly Constituency had 12088 electors distributed across 21 polling stations (including one auxiliary polling station). The two candidates who contested the said bye-election were - Shri C.M. Chang of Naga People‘s Front and Shri Luma Onen Chang of Indian National Congress. The counting of votes was conducted by the Returning Officer of 51-Noksen (ST) A.C. in the presence of Commission’s Observers and Counting Agents of both the contesting candidates. The details of votes cast are as under :
a) Total No. of electors : 12088
b) Total No. of Votes polled (including postal ballot papers) : 8553
c) Total No. of postal ballot papers rejected : 3

Shri C.M. Chang (NPF) secured 5708 votes, whereas Shri Luma Onen Chang (INC) got 2845 votes and, accordingly, Shri C.M. Chang (NPF) was declared elected by the Returning Officer.

Election Commission of India
New Delhi, Dated:- 07th September, 2013

****


Press Conference by Union Home Minister

Following is the text of the opening statement of Union Home Minister Shri Sushilkumar Shinde at the press conference of the Ministry of Home Affairs here today.:-

“On 30th August, 2013, I met the Prime Minister of Bhutan, who was on an official visit to India and discussed bilateral security and border management related issues.
2. In a major setback to the terrorists, the Security Forces neutralized 10 militants in Jammu and Kashmir on 30th and 31st August, 2013.

3. Acting on the basis of specific input, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) apprehended two top terrorists of Indian Mujahideen (IM) viz. Md. Ahmed Siddibappa @ Yasin Bhatkal (self-styled operational commander of IM) and Asadullah Akhtar @ Haddi on 28th / 29th August, 2013. They were planning to meet in East Champaran area (near Raxaul), Bihar to plan/execute some terrorist acts. Both the accused were produced before the Court. The Court granted the custody of the accused for twelve days to NIA.

4. Earlier, on August 16, 2013, Abdul Karim @ Tunda, a well known Lashkar-e-Toiba explosive expert/terrorist, wanted for his role in 1993 Mumabi serial train blast, Delhi bomb blast of 1997-1998 and serial bombings in the State of Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab, Andhra Pradesh, etc., was arrested by the Delhi Police from Banwasa-Mehendranagar border with Nepal. He is presently under the police custody.

5. Willy Naruenartwanicha, popularly known as Willy, was arrested by Thailand Police on the extradition request sent by Government of India on 30th August 2013 in Bangkok. He was involved in a Criminal Conspiracy for procuring Arms and Ammunition in huge quantity from a foreign country to wage war against India. Earlier in the same case, one accused, named as Anthony Shimray was arrested in India by NIA and the trial of the case is going on before NIA Special Court, New Delhi. This is a significant breakthrough as far as investigation of terror crime is concerned, as for the first time extradition request sent to Thailand against a Thai National was executed by the Thai Government. NIA officers/ officials had visited Thailand and pursued the extradition request in Bangkok.

6. The Special Court of NIA at Guwahati has issued orders for forfeiture of the property acquired from proceeds of the terrorism by the United National Liberation Front (UNLF), a banned terrorist organisation of Manipur. The forfeited property included a food processing plant on a 7.46 acres plot. The Court has also forfeited the cash amount of Rs. 17 lakh seized during investigation. This is the first forfeiture of immovable property acquired from the proceeds of terrorism under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act 1967.

7. Under the Special Industry Initiatives scheme for Jammu and Kashmir, known as ‘UDAAN’, the Project Appraisal Committee, on 13th August, 2013, approved the proposals of M/s. India Infoline to train 2100 candidates and M/s. Renault Nissan Automotive to train 325 candidates over a period of five years. Under ‘UDAAN’, training of 547 candidates have been completed, out of which 221 have been offered jobs and the remaining candidates are under placement process.

8. An amount of Rs.43.48 crore and Rs. 7.05 crore was reimbursed to the Government of Jammu and Kashmir under the Security Related Expenditure Scheme on 5th August, 2013 and 27th August, 2013 respectively.
9. Extension of Suspension of Operation (SoO) Agreement was signed on 30.8.2013 at New Delhi between the Kuki National Organisation(KNO), the United Peoples Front (UPF), the Government of India and the Government of Manipur, for a period of one year, effective till 21.08.2014.
10. A meeting was held on 8th August, 2013 at New Delhi under the Chairmanship of Joint Secretary (NE) to discuss the demands of four outfits namely Kuki Revolution Army (KRA), Kuki Liberation Organization (KLO), Hmar Peoples Convention Democratic (HPCD) and United Kukigam Defence Army (UKDA).
11. In pursuance to the Statement made by me on 22nd December, 2012 subsequent to the unfortunate incident of gang rape in Delhi on 16th December, 2012, a Commission of Inquiry consisting of Ms. Usha Mehra, a retired Judge of Delhi High Court under the Commission of Inquiry Act, 1952 was appointed on 26.12.2012 to look into the various aspects of this incident and to suggest measures to improve the security and safety of women. The Commission forwarded their recommendations/ observations on 22nd February, 2013. The recommendations are broadly for improve-ment in public transport system and associated infrastructure, improved institutional and legal mechanisms to support/ assist victims, incorporation of gender sensitization in education curriculum etc. The ‘Action Taken Report’ on the recommendations of the ‘Usha Mehra Commission of Inquiry’ has been laid in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha on 20th August 2013 and 22nd August 2013 respectively.

12. The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has approved a scheme, with an estimated cost of Rs.3664.61 crore for Construction of Infrastructure (residential, non-residential and Border out Posts for BSF at its various establishments during the 12th Five Year Plan. Sanction to this effect was issued on 14th August, 2013.

13. An amount of Rs. 27.68 crore was sanctioned to North Eastern Police Academy (NEPA), Shillong in the current financial year for implementation of modified Plan scheme on strengthening the infrastructure.
14. The Security Advisor (NM)- (Brg. Sanjay Agarwal) visited Hyderabad on 20th-22nd August, 2013 to inspect the training programme being conducted by the Greyhounds for the trainers from the States of Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Bihar and Odisha for upgrading operational effectiveness of the Special Police Force in these States.
15. The Senior Security Advisor (NM)- (Shri K. Vijay Kumar) along with the Security Advisor (NM) visited Jharkhand and Bihar on 29th-30th August, 2013 to review the LWE situation. They also held meetings with the Chief Ministers, State Administration, Police and CAPF Officials of both the States.
16. An amount of Rs.974.00 lakh was released to CAPFs for carrying out Civic Action Programmes in the LWE affected areas.
17. An amount of Rs. 216.02 lakh has been released to the Prasar Bharati under Media Plan towards the Publicity Campaign by All India Radio in LWE affected States for broadcasting of jingles for a period of 60 days.
18. An amount of Rs. 20.65 crore has been released to the Government of Odisha under the Scheme of ‘Construction/Strengthening of Fortified Police Stations.

19. During the month, Rs.33.05 crore were sanctioned to the CAPFs (BSF, SSB and ITBP) for acquisition of 184.41 acres of land and Rs.41.73 crore were sanctioned to BSF and ITBP for construction of office/residential buildings.

20. The CRPF was given authorization on 02.08.2013 for procurement of 23 special equipment for Rs.37.59 lakh for 330 personnel of Counter Guerilla Force under Cobra.

21. The BSF was given authorization on 20.08.2013 for procurement of 522 Nos. 12 Bore Pump Action Gun and 52,200 Nos of its matching ammunitions for Rs.2.81 Crore.

22. The NIA was given authorization on 23.08.2013 for procurement of 157 Nos. of various types of vehicles.

23. 3744 vacancies of Constable (General Duty) in CAPFs were filled up through Special Recruitment Rallies in Left Wing Extremism affected districts.

24. A revised list of 5941 meritorious Review Medical Examination fit candidates of Constable (General Duty) was declared by the Staff Selection Commission on 1st August, 2013.

25. On the request of Government of West Bengal, 09 Companies of CAPFs (CRPF-05 & SSB-04) were mobilised and deployed in the State in the context of the demand for separate Gorkhaland State.

26. On the request of Government of Kerala, 20 Companies of CAPFs (CRPF-09, BSF-06, ITBP-02 and CISF-03) were deployed from 10.08.2013 to 19.08.2013 for law and order duties.
27. The law and order situation in Meghalaya was reviewed and the deployment of 06 Companies of CAPFs (CRPF-02 and BSF-04) in the State was extended till 30.09.2013.

28. The first meeting of the Security Commission, Puducherry under the Chairmanship of Home Secretary was held on 12th August, 2013 at New Delhi to discuss the functioning of the Police and framing of broad policy guidelines for promoting efficient, effective, responsive and accountable policing.

29. A meeting of High Level Committee was held on 21st August, 2013 under the Chairmanship of the Agriculture Minister to consider the memoranda, reports of the Central Teams, recommendations of the Inter-Ministerial Group, which approved the central assistance to the States of Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Jammu and Kashmir in the wake of earthquake of May, 2013 and drought of 2012-13, subject to the adjustment of 75% (for general category States) and 90% (for special category States) of balances available in SDRF account for the said calamities.

30. A total of 2893 personnel of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) were deployed in different States including Bihar, Kerala, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Uttarakhand and Assam along with the boats, vehicles, medical first responder and other equipment for response and relief activities as a result of disaster/ disaster like situation. NDRF personnel carried out the rescue and relief in the area of deployment in coordination with the State authorities and evacuated 4259 persons and recovered 187 dead bodies.

31. Land identification of all the 131 coastal Police Stations, sanctioned under the coastal security, has been finalized and land acquisition process in all the 131 cases has been initiated. Land has been acquired in 97 cases. Land identification for 55 Jetties out of 60 Jetties have been done by Coastal States/UTs and land has been acquired for 10 Jetties. Land has also been identified for all the 10 Marine Police Operational Centers for Andaman and Nicobar Island. Rs.98.85 crore has been released to coastal States/ UTs for starting of construction work, purchase of vehicles and operationalisation of coastal Police Stations. During August, 2013 construction works have started in the case of 4 coastal Police Stations.

32. Against an amount of Rs.990 crore earmarked for Border Area Development Programme (BADP) in budget for 2013-14, Rs.439.25 crore (44.37%) have been released to the States in the current year upto August, 2013.

33. Integrated Online Visa Application System along with Biometrics (C-Visa) under the Immigration Visa and Foreigners Registration and Tracking (IVFRT) was operationalized in the Indian Mission at Bratislava, Slovakia, Indian Mission at Yerevan, Armenia and the Indian Mission at Belgrade, Serbia.This facility is now operational at 125 Indian Missions abroad.

34. Under the Crime and Criminal Tracking System (CCTNS), upto August 2013, contracts for System Integrated (SIs) have been signed in 32 States/ UTs. 11632 CCTNS sites have been prepared and 9035 sites have been commissioned by BSNL with regard to network connectivity. Over 2.62 crore past cases have been digitised. As part of capacity building under CCTNS, 7.66 lakh trainings courses have been conducted. Funds to the tune of Rs. 291.09 crores has been utilised out of total released amount of Rs. 487.12 crore.

35. The first meeting of the Steering Committee on Indo-Nepal Border Infrastructure was held under the Chairmanship of Secretary (BM) on 26/08/2013.

36. On August 6, 2013, Mr. Alon Ushpiz, Ambassador of Israel to India met Home Secretary in New Delhi and discussed bilateral security issues between India and Israel.

37. On August 8, 2013, Sir James Bevan, High Commissioner of U.K. to India met Home Secretary in New Delhi and discussed bilateral security issues between India and U.K.

38. The Orissa Protection of Interests of Depositors (In Financial Establishments) Bill, 2011 was assented to by the President of India on 12.08.2013.

39. On the Independence Day, 2013, six President’s Police Medal for Gallantary, 132 Police Medal for Gallantary, 88 President’s Police Medal for Distinguished Service and 641 Police Medal for Meritorious Service were awarded to the States/ UTs/ CAPFs officers/ personnel.

40. Two President Correctional Service Medals for Distinguished Service and 36 Correctional Service Medals for Meritorious Service were also awared to the Prison personnel on the Independence Day, 2013.

41. During the period from 21.07.2013 to 30.08.2013, the Narcotics Control Bureau seized 539.9 kg of Cannabis herb, 82.837 kg of pseudo- ephedrine tablets, 61.9 kg of pseudo- ephedrine powder, 34.36 kg of Dextro- propoxyphene, 22.89 kg of Methaqualone, 19.4 kg of Ketamine and 6.604 kg of heroin. During the period, 21 persons, including three foreigners, were arrested for their involvement in drug trafficking. The combined conservative value of the seized drugs is about Rs.2.5 crore.

42. In respect of the National Population Register, data entry has been completed for 117.68 crore persons. The capture of biometrics, using UIDAI enrolment software has been done for 17.8 crore persons, adding 0.9 crore persons during the month.”



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International Conference on Alliance for Literacy, Peace and Development in South Asia Inaugurated
India has called for enhanced cooperation in the field of literacy and education. Inaugurating the one day international conference on alliance for literacy, peace and development in South Asia at New Delhi today, the Vice President of India, Shri Hamid Ansari said that through mutual cooperation involving sharing of experiences, lessons learnt and best practices, the region can together fight the scourge of illiteracy, remove ignorance from our midst and build modern educated and enlightened societies in our countries, the region and beyond. He said 40 crore adults, almost half of the world’s illiterate population live in South Asia. Women and girls constitute nearly two thirds of the illiterate adult population, making the magnitude of the problem even greater. Appreciating the literacy among young women growing at a faster pace than that of young men, the Vice-President said that gender parity in literacy is a distinct possibility in the future.
In the Conference, the Vice-President of India also announced that Saakshar Bharat programme has been recognized by experts and it is being conferred UNESCO’S King Sejong Literacy prize for this year. He also presented certificates to the 20000000th + adult learners. These learners belong to the socially and economically disadvantaged sections of the society.
Speaking on the occasion, the Union HRD Minister Dr. M. M. Pallam Raju highlighted the role of literacy in promotion of peace and development. He said the former Prime Minister late Rajiv Gandhi recognized the need for promoting IT in the field of literacy and also gave vision for promoting the same. The Minister added that in 2009, the Government recast the National Literacy Mission as Saakshar Bharat with the aim to provide functional literacy to 7 crore adults by 2017. Hailing the role of Saakshar Bharat programme the Minister said the world’s largest literacy programme has been successful due to its decentralized structure. The programme is fully compliant with Belem framework of Action and Abuja declaration. The Minister further added Education for All (EFA) Goal-4 provides achieving a 50% improvement in levels of adult literacy by 2015, especially for women. The Minister of State for HRD, Dr. Shashi Tharoor said that to invest more in education is to prevent debilitating calamity tomorrow and that development is about people and not about infrastructure.
The foreign delegates from South Asian countries also spoke on this occasion. The Education Minister of Afghanistan Shri Ghulam Farooq Wardak said that his country is committed to promote literacy after the education system was completely destroyed during the Taliban period. The budget for education has been substantially high. He thanked India for the support to his country in this field. Later, participating in this discussion, the leader of the Pakistani delegation, Shri Salman Bashir said that the region should utilize collective potential and adopt a cooperative approach. He further said that the content is also important and cultivation of civic sense should be promoted.
The Sri Lankan head of delegation, Shri Mohan Lal Grero had talked about combining best practices and bringing in public-private partnership in the field. Maj. Gen. Namgyel, the Bhutanese head of delegation, said that despite geographical constraints, his country has moved ahead in the field of education and literacy. He also took pride in stating that in his country, the fresh enrollment of girls in schools was greater than boys in the current year.
This International Conference on Peace, Literacy and Development in South Asia was organised by National Literacy Mission Authority, Department of School Education and Literacy under Ministry of Human Resource Development.

Govt. announces Central Finance Assistance for boosting tourism in the states of Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim and Nagaland


In a major boast to the North-East tourism sector, Union Tourism Minister Shri K. Chiranjeevi has approved Central Finance Assistance (CFA) to various tourism development projects in the states of Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim and Nagaland.
Sikkim:
1) Development of Tourist infrastructure at Bura-Nilkantha at Legship in West Sikkim - Rs.89.10 lakh.
Buranilkantha is a beautiful river side location en-route to Geyzing and Renchenpong. Strengthening tourist facilities at this spot is found essential to render a way side tourist point along this circuit, so that the tourists are not strained by distant travel. The project involves the development of amenity block, construction of Eco-friendly walkways and Landscaping & Beautification.
2) Strengthening of wayside tourism facilities along with the national highway in Sikkim Circuit. - Amount Sanctioned Rs.160.00 lakh.
This project involves the construction of Car parking area, way side amenities along with the NH-31A in Rangpo town.
3) Rs.160.00 lakh has been sanctioned towards provision and display of superlative signages and hoardings in Sikkim. The proposed signages and Hoardings will be displayed at various places like railway stations, bus stops and hotels, in order to showcase and propagate the tourism potential of the state.
4) Development of Tourist Circuit along Marchak including Development of Barchangey water site in East Sikkim.- Amount Sanctioned Rs.160.00 lakh.
This project involves the development of Tourist infrastructure like tourist accommodation, cafeteria, viewing deck and water bodies at Barchangey waterfall site.

Arunachal Pradesh:

1) Mega Tourist Destination at Tawang ”. - Amount Sanctioned Rs.463.34 lakh.
This project involves the construction of Guest house complex, Tawang monestry restaurant, Dormitory complex and development of waterfall viewing gallery, Children Park and Amphitheatre at Tawang.

2) Construction of Tourist Complex at Hunli Lower Dibang Valley District.


Amount Sanctioned Rs.98.05 lakh.

Hunli region is part of the lower Dibang valley district and is popular for its scenic beauty and cold temperature which attracts domestic and foreign tourists. With a view to project the region as a major destination, government has conceived this project as a flagship project to preserve and to promote eco tourism and provide accessibility to tourist in terms of adventure. This project will increase the inflow of visitors since it shall facilitate the platform to disseminate knowledge about the multi-fascinating local tribal people inhabiting the areas from centuries.

Nagaland:

1) “Eco-Adventure and culture destination at Kuhuboto”. - Amount Sanctioned Rs.100.00 Lakh.


Kuhuboto is a virgin tourist destination which is rich in natural beauty. This place is endowed with lush green mountains and valleys, flowers, mountain streams etc. Kuhuboto has a close proximity to Dimapur, which is promising destination both from Tourism and Business stand point.
This project involves the construction of Budget Accommodation hotel, tourist reception center, open air theater, public toilet, food court, parking area and cafeteria.


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