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Download UGC NET Admit Card for January 2017 examination from

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Admit cards for UGC NET examination to be held on January 22, 107 have been released by The Central Board of Secondary Education on their official website – Candidates who have registered for CBSE UGC NET 2017 can now download their admit card from the site.The examination will be held in 84 subjects at 90 selected cities across the country.NET examination is conducted twice in a year to select candidates for assistant Professor/Lecturer and for Junior Research Fellowships (JRF) in colleges and universities across the country. UGC-Net has three papers. Candidate need to clear cut-off in each of the papers and additionally the cumulative cut-off to qualify.Here’s how you can download your NET admit card:1. Visit the official website- cbsenet.nic.in2. Click on – Click here for login for Admit Card.3. You will be directed to login page.4. Enter your application number and password.5. You will now get access to your admit card.Download your admit card and take a print out. Do not forget to carry your admit card to the examination centre, you won’t be allowed to appear for your examination without the admit card.About CBSE UGC NET:On behalf of UGC, the Central Board of Secondary Education conducts the National Eligibility Test (NET) for Indian nationals to determine the eligibility for Assistant Professor only or Junior Research Fellowship. NET in conducted in 84 subjects at selected NET Examination cities across the country.Best of luck!

Special arrangements made in Bihar for Prakash Parv

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A total of ten trains and 300 buses will take devotees from Punjab to Patna for on January 5. The Punjab govt has made elaborate arrangements for the devotees who will travel free of cost to Patna for the ‘Prakash Utsav’. The state govt has also co-ordinated with Bihar govt for providing a free stay to thousands of devotees who would attend the celebrations.“In all the trains, one compartment will be reserved for women. The trains departing from 3 Takhts Sri Amritsar, Sri Anandpur Sahib and Sri Damdama Sahib will have one coach each for Nihang Sikhs (an armed Sikh order)” said Punjab Education Minister, Dr Daljeet Singh Cheema, adding that the Punjab Government has made arrangements for free travel and free meals.Over 25,000 devotees from Punjab are expected to take part in the event, which will be held in Takht Sri Patna Sahib, in Patna, also the birth place of the tenth Sikh guru. Thousands of devotees have already reached the venue.Dr Cheema further divulged that residents of every constituency would be fetched in 10 special trains as per the coaches apart from 3 buses operating from each constituency taking the total to 300 buses. Punjab government had earlier organized two functions at Sri Anandpur Sahib and New Delhi in which Prime Minister Narendra Modi was also present.

Mumbai: Fire destroys Sydenham Management Institute’s library

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The library of Sydenham Institute of Management Studies, Research and Entrepreneurship Education (SIMSREE) was destroyed after a fire broke out at the College building in Churchgate on Sunday morning.Books, wooden furniture, and computers on the third floor of the Institute were destroyed. The fire spread rapidly because of books and wooden furniture​. Though the exact reason for the fire is not known yet, a short-circuit is believed to have caused the fire.“The entire floor will have to be cordoned off for some time. Students are on a term break at present, but once classes begin on January 2, we will need to find classrooms. We are yet to assess the total damage,” an official from the college told Hindustan Times.Official said that the restoration work will take time.“We received a call at 5.21 am and the blaze was doused by 7.30 am. As it was a holiday, crowd management wasn’t a problem.” said an official from the fire department.Four fire tenders and seven water tankers were sent to the spot. Fire officials suspect that a short-circuit may have caused the fire, but it is yet to be confirmed.

NEET to be held in eight languages from 2017 onwards

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) for admission in medical colleges will be held in eight languages- Hindi, English, Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Marathi, Tamil and Telugu- for the academic year 2017-18. Also, the candidate qualifying NEET will be eligible for all India quota and other quotas under the State governments and Institutes irrespective of the medium taken by candidates, subject to other eligibility criteria, the Union Health Ministry said in a statement.In May, Union Health Minister JP Nadda had held a meeting with the Health Ministers and Health Secretaries of 18 states/Union Territories towards implementation of NEET across states. Joint Secretary, Medical Education, AK Singhal said, “The collaborative efforts of Central Health Ministry with the state health ministries have lead to this decision so as to bring parity for the students who have taken the State Board exams.”NEET has replaced AIPMT and has been made mandatory for admissions in all-India medical/dental colleges which means no other state can conduct its separate medical entrance.

Assam: Akhil Gogoi vows to foil move for citizenship to Hindu

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti leader Akhil Gogoi alleged the Centre’s move to grant citizenship to Bangladeshi Hindu immigrants was a “big conspiracy” and vowed to thwart it on Monday.”I urge all the workers, farmers and common people of Assam from today itself to protect the identity of the state. You will see that in the next three months, we will thwart any attempt to grant citizenship to Hindu Bangladeshis,” Gogoi told reporters just after coming out of Golaghat jail here.Assam is in a “crisis” and there is a “big conspiracy” behind granting citizenship to Hindu Bangladeshi immigrants, the RTI activist and KMSS president alleged.”The BJP government is trying to amend the Assam Accord by amending the Citizenship Act. KMSS will raise a united fight against this move,” Gogoi said.He also declared a fight against “privatisation” of oil fields in Assam through auctions and vowed bring about a logical conclusion to the ongoing investigation on the corruption in Assam Public Service Commission. The Gauhati High Court had granted Gogoi bail on December 16, paving the way for his immediate release.On October 2, he was arrested from the middle of a press conference for allegedly instigating people during eviction near Kaziranga National Park, leading to death of two protesters. Gogoi was first lodged in Nagaon jail for the case, but subsequently he was arrested in connection with various old cases, some as many as 10 years old, registered across the state.He charged Assam Education Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma of “hatching the conspiracy” of putting him behind bars, mainly to keep him away from the by-polls in Lakhimpur Lok Sabha seat and Baithalangso Assembly constituency, besides the recently held Autonomous Council polls.”I also urge Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal to not bow in front of Delhi and Nagpur. He should be the real ‘state leader’ and work for the people of Assam,” Gogoi said.Talking about the demonetisation measure by the Centre, the peasant leader said it has affected the farmers severely and they are in “deep crisis”.

Kerala: 22-year-old hospitalised after alleged ragging, doctors say his kidneys affected

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A 22-year-old student of Government Polytechnic College has been hospitalised in Thrissur, Kerala after he was allegedly ragged by eight students, said media reports.The accused forcibly fed the student with liquor mixed with some substances, and when he came home, he complained about kidney pain, reported Deccan Chronicle.The victim has alleged that he was forced to do intense physical exercises like push-ups for about five hours and drink liquor.Meanwhile, the police have booked eight students. They have also been suspended from the institution at Nattakom.In two separate, complaints lodged with police, two students have alleged that they were subjected to brutal ragging by the senior students of the institute.While one student is undergoing treatment at a hospital in Thrissur, another is admitted in a private hospital in Ernakulam, police said. The accused in the two separate incidents are members of the same group, they said.The state human rights commission has sought a report from the education department on the alleged ragging incident. (With agency inputs)

New American research study reconfirms distressing state of education in India

The recent report of New York based PEW Research Centre has analysed an inter-country comparison on the state of education, focusing on educational attainment among the major religions of the world. The Centre, part of the John Templeton Foundation, describes itself “as a non-partisan think tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping the world, while not taking any policy positions”. In possibly a first of its kind analysis, the report focuses on average number of years of schooling among the various religions of the world – it concludes that Jews average 13.4 years of schooling, compared to the international Christian average of 9.3 years, 7.9 years for the Buddhist – the depressing finding is that the Muslims and Hindus of the world undergo 5.6 years of schooling, as against the global average of 7.7 years.

The startling conclusion is that Hindus continue to have the lowest level of ‘educational attainment’ among other major religions of the world, despite substantial educational gains in the recent decade. “Hindu adults (age 25 and older) in the youngest generation analysed in the study have an average of 3.4 more years schooling than those in the oldest generation” – the good news stops there. ‘41 percent of Hindus have no formal education of any kind. Despite large gains by Hindu women across generations, Hindus still have a largest educational gender gap of any religious group’ – these are some of the findings of the 160 page detailed report of PEW Research Centre entitled ‘Region and Education around the World at Large’.

Representational image. Reuters.

Representational image. Reuters.

The report measures ‘educational attainment’, but does not assess the quality of education, using four broad levels of attainment and categories based on Unesco’s International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED). The focus of the study is on shares of population with no formal schooling coupled with post-secondary education, along with the average years of schooling to express the “level” of ‘educational attainment’ in the country’s population in a single number, based on a methodology created to capture cross-country comparison of educational attainment. The report groups 151 countries and territories, with available education and religious data, also listing the data sources used for each country, along with a comment on the challenges associated with measuring change in educational attainment across generations.

The vast majority of the world’s Hindus live in India (94 percent), or in Nepal and Bangladesh. In India, Hindus average 5.5 year schooling while in Nepal and Bangladesh the average is 3.9 and 4.6 years respectively. By startling contrast, the Hindus living in the US have 15.7 years of schooling, on average a full year more than the next most highly educated US religious group (Jews) and nearly 3 years more than the average American adult (12.9 years); Hindus in Europe also are highly educated, average 13.9 years of schooling, according to the report.

All this depressing news can well be generally collaborated by the recent similar studies by other international groups. Without going into the academic nitty-gritty, the broad picture emerging is the same. Various reports sharply highlight the abysmal state of education in India, in comparison with other countries; pointing to the public policy neglect that this sector has suffered over seven decades of our democracy. It is disturbing to note that as against the education of total world population of 7.9 years of average schooling, the advance country’s average 11.3 years of schooling, all developing country’s average 7.2 years of schooling – India trails behind at 5.6 years, at the very bottom of the pile. The only possible consolation is that India is only marginally ahead of Sub-Saharan Africa in this regard, trailing behind every region of Europe, Central Asia, Middle East as well as Latin America and the Caribbean. These findings are quite consistent with other international comparisons, including the ‘Legatum Prosperity Index’ of countries, in which India is close to the bottom. It is noteworthy that the European PISA Index, widely used as a measure of educational attainment and quality, which covers over 80 countries, does not include India in its study – anecdotal information refers to Tamil Nadu and Himachal Pradesh inviting PISA for the study in the first decade of this century, which resulted in India being ranked second-last among the participating countries, just ahead of the last-placed Kirgizstan – surely this was ‘bad’ news; it is easier to shoot the messenger than receive bad news – thereafter India has had nothing to do with the PISA measurement system, labelling it irrational and unsuitable for India! The latest Barro-Lee Harvard findings in respect of South-Asian countries in relation to the other regions are apparently consistent with the above picture.

At Independence, the literacy rate in India was 11 percent. In the mid ‘40s, India as a founder Charter member of the post-war created United Nations, participated in the Declaration of Universal Right to Education. It took India six more decades to translate this internationally announced intention to domestic policy, through the enactment of the Right to Education (RTE). The RTE primarily stresses increased enrolment, with focus on school infrastructure – it has paid little attention to the critical issues of educational quality, and also on inclusivity which is an extremely important element in the Indian scene, relating to the economically and socially backward classes. There is no doubt that education now is much more widespread, and there are major gains in school participation over the past decade, along with noticeably improved gender balance, which are major gains. However, the good news ends here.

The NGO Pratham has been bringing out its Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) since 2005, on the basis of extensive household surveys conducted to assess children’s schooling status and basic reading levels in arithmetic. The 2000 survey covered 577 rural districts, and found that nearly half of the grade V students were not able to read at grade II level; and nearly the same proportion of grade V students did not have the basic arithmetic skills which they would have learned at the end of Grade II. The National Council of Research and Training (NCERT) has been conducting National Achievement Surveys periodically since 2001 for Classes III, V and VIII, covering all states. The latest NAS survey results which came out a couple of months back indicate a sharp fall in science, maths and English standards in comparison with the previous period. Clearly educational standards have fallen across the board, particularly in government schools all over the country. ASER 2014 also found that over 75 percent of children in Class III, over 50 percent in Class V and over 25 percent in Class VIII could not read text meant for the Class II level. At the all India level, the number of children in rural schools in Class II who could even recognise letters or the alphabets increased from 13.4 percent in 2010 to 32.5 percent in 2014. In the last year of the primary education in Class V, almost 20 percent of the children could only read letters, and are not literate even at this level; 14 percent could read words but not sentences; and 19 percent could read sentences but longer texts. Reading levels for children enrolled in government schools in Class V show a decline between 2010 and 2012. The gap in reading levels between children enrolled in government schools and private schools appears to be growing over time. Close to half of the children will finish eight years of schooling, but will still not have learned basic skills in arithmetic. While the PEW study focuses on number of years of schooling, the current fall in quality levels in India is a double-whammy – the current situation cannot be categorised as anything but catastrophic.

One additional word on the quality of the data which is recovered from the field will add to this disturbing portrayal. In 1994, the District Information System of Education (DISE) was introduced, designed to capture information from every school, routing it through the block level and aggregating at the district level for final compilation at state headquarters. U-DISE is now the ‘official statistics’; all other parallel connections for information is now discontinued. In concept, U-DISE is an extremely powerful instrument for gathering data, but its validity depends on the reliability of data being fed in the system. Since less than 10 percent schools have computers and reliable source of electricity, most of the data are generated manually and collated at block or district level. The reliability of the total data base at the state or national level is highly questionable, with wide variations among states.

The entire picture turns out to be one of great worry and concern. On the one hand, the average Indian gets less schooling than nearly every child in the world; even the existing data on average schooling and dropout rates are highly questionable. The quality of education at primary level, and indeed at all levels, is abysmal. All of this makes a terrible picture.

Indeed should this be so? As the PEW report points out, the child of Indian origin living in the US has higher educational attainments than any other ethnic community; the Indian child in Europe is among the most educated in that continent. There is enormous talent in the most backward regions of the most backward parts of India. There is sufficient evidence that the Indian child is as good a learner, given the opportunity, compared to any other in the world. In a relatively unknown experiment, the VidyaGyan school system of the Shiv Nadar Foundation, over the past eight years has been providing primary and secondary education to talented village children, selected only from rural government schools, coming from Below Poverty Line (BPL) families, and training them through good education and provision of minimal health care, leading up to the CBSE examinations – the results are amazing. Indeed in the 2016 CBSE Board examinations, every child passed the examination in the First Class, and most of them obtained merit admission to prestigious higher education institutions in India and abroad, some with full fellowship. No further proof is required of the potential to be educated – all that is required is give them basic coaching with decent nutrition facilities. It is a measure of the failure of governance over seven decades, that this fundamental aspect of human development in a democracy has been totally neglected.

This can be reversed in a decade. A new approach, with focus on quality, importance to the student and the teacher as opposed to the current accent on glorifying the politician and the bureaucrat in the field, with appropriate linkages with technology can transform the education scene. It is a tragedy that the critical importance of reforming the education sector has not yet been realised by our policy makers – the existing dispensation is apparently still under the illusion that continuation of existing policies, with incremental sporadic band-aid intervention is adequate. The PEW report is a reminder of our colossal blunders, and more importantly a call for urgent new action, if our democracy is to have a future.

First Published On : Dec 18, 2016 11:48 IST

Great news: Sushma Swaraj recovering well after successful kidney transplant

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who underwent a kidney transplant three days ago, was today shifted out of the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at AIIMS and was recovering well. The 64-year-old minister is likely to be discharged in another seven to ten days, senior hospital officials said. “The minister has been shifted out of the ICU to a private ward of the Cardio-Neuro Centre. Her post-surgery recovery is on the expected lines,” AIIMS Director Dr M C Mishra said.He said her recovery is being closely monitored by a team of transplant surgeons, physicians (endocrinologist, nephrologist, cardiologist and pulmonologist) and anaesthesist besides critical care expert, physiotherapist and transplant specialists.”She is likely to be discharged in another seven or 10 days,” Mishra added.Swaraj had undergone a kidney transplant on Saturday with the organ being harvested from a living unrelated donor.According to Mishra, the woman who donated her kidney to the minister is also in the process of being discharged.”During transplant surgeries, the recipient is put on Immunosuppressants in order to lower the body’s ability to reject a transplanted organ.”That is the reason why the minister, after the transplant, was shifted to ICU and kept in isolation to avoid any infection,” a senior doctor at AIIMS said.AIIMS earlier had stated that the surgery of Swaraj was successful and uneventful.Swaraj’s nearly six-hour long surgery was performed by a team of 50 personnel led by Dr Mukut Minz, former head of the department of renal transplant surgery at the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) and Dr V K Bansal from AIIMS. Minz is currently with Fortis, Mohali. A team of transplant anesthesiologists, nurses, technicians and other support staff assisted them.On November 16, Swaraj herself had posted on Twitter that she was in AIIMS because of kidney failure. Swaraj, who has been in and out of the hospital for last few months, was admitted to AIIMS on November 7.After Swaraj made public her health condition on social media, several people had offered their kidneys to her.

Getting children into school is not like going to Pluto, says Julia Gillard | Reuters

By Nita Bhalla NEW DELHI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – The world is facing a crisis if countries do not increase their education budgets and get more children into school, warned Julia Gillard, chair of the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), a global education funding agencyThere are 260 million children and adolescents out of school globally, says the Education Commission, a global organisation of former prime ministers, academics and business leaders set up last year to campaign for investment in education.This is attributed largely to poverty with parents unable to afford to send their children to school but also other factors such as discrimination based on ethnicity, caste or religion. Education Commission data forecasts that by 2030, half of the 1.6 billion young people in the world will not have secondary level skills, and will not be easily absorbed into a job market which is demanding higher skill levels.Gillard, the former prime minister of Australia, said this was a crisis not just for the individual child who misses out on school, but also at the global economy level. “One of things we have learned is that we can overcome these problems if we try

The post Getting children into school is not like going to Pluto, says Julia Gillard
| Reuters
appeared first on Firstpost.

Bengal govt bars state univ VCs from attending Javadekar’s conference, BJP lashes out

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>BJP on Thursday accused the TMC-led West Bengal government of trying to “subvert federal structure” of the country after Vice Chancellors of the state universities were barred from attending a video-conference by Union HRD minister on digital economy.”They (Bengal government) behave as constitutional experts, while giving lectures on federal structure. But when it comes to preaching what they say, they are the first to back out,” BJP National Secretary Rahul Sinha told PTI. “By preventing the VCs to attend the conference on digital economy held by Union HRD minister Prakash Javadekar, they are trying to subvert the federal structure of the country. While the TMC themselves will not respect the federal structure, they will not hesitate lecturing others,” he said.”The country has given a mandate to BJP for five years. The TMC government has to follow the rules of the federal structure where the Central government is the pivot holding the entire country. Thus, TMC should not behave as a separate country or entity,” Sinha said. In the wake of the Centre’s demonetization move, the HRD Ministry is planning a month-long campaign, beginning December 12, to spread awareness about digital transactions among university students and teachers across the country.The Union HRD Minister today held a meeting through video conferencing with nearly 670 Vice Chancellors and senior officials dealing with higher education in states. The VCs from West Bengal gave it a miss after state Education Minister Partha Chatterjee yesterday directed them not to attend the programme, citing the ongoing examinations and preparations of students elections in state universities.

TMC trying to ‘subvert federal structure’, accuses BJP

Kolkata: BJP on Thursday accused the TMC-led West Bengal government of trying to “subvert federal structure” of the country after Vice Chancellors of the state universities
were barred from attending a video-conference by Union HRD minister on digital economy.

“They (Bengal government) behave as constitutional experts, while giving lectures on federal structure. But when it comes to preaching what they say, they are the first to back out,” BJP National Secretary Rahul Sinha told PTI.

“By preventing the VCs to attend the conference on digital economy held by Union HRD minister Prakash Javadekar, they are trying to subvert the federal structure of the country. While the TMC themselves will not respect the federal structure, they will not hesitate lecturing others,” he said.

Prakash Javadekar. PTI

Prakash Javadekar. PTI

“The country has given a mandate to BJP for five years. The TMC government has to follow the rules of the federal structure where the Central government is the pivot holding the entire country. Thus, TMC should not behave as a separate country or entity,” Sinha said.

In the wake of the Centre’s demonetisation move, the HRD Ministry is planning a month-long campaign, beginning December 12, to spread awareness about digital transactions among university students and teachers across the country.

The Union HRD Minister on Thursday held a meeting through video conferencing with nearly 670 Vice Chancellors and senior officials dealing with higher education in states.

The VCs from West Bengal gave it a miss after state Education Minister Partha Chatterjee yesterday directed them not to attend the programme, citing the ongoing examinations and preparations of students elections in state universities.

“VCs were asked to attend the video conference, but they won’t be able to attend the programme as exams are going on in all state universities. The VCs are busy ensuring smooth functioning of examinations and preparations of student elections, so they cannot attend it,” Chatterjee had said.

The minister, however, denied to comment on the matter on Thursday.

Meanwhile, senior TMC minister Firhad Hakim said, “TMC do not need to take lessons on federal structure from a party like BJP, which is going all out to destroy the said federal structure.”

Earlier this week, Banerjee had instructed WBCS officers not to act on any directive by the Central government without asking the state government.

According to TMC sources, the decision to give the video conference a miss was taken keeping in mind the Chief Minister’s continued protest against the Centre’s demonetisation drive.

First Published On : Dec 8, 2016 19:19 IST

Principals of Delhi govt-run schools can appoint retired teachers: Manish Sisodia

New Delhi: Principals of Delhi government-run schools can appoint retired teachers in case of “shortage” of teaching staff in their institutes.

This was announced by Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, who also holds the education portfolio, during the annual function of a Sarvodaya Vidyalaya in Mayur Vihar Phase I in New Delhi on Tuesday.

File image of Manish Sisodia. PTI

File image of Manish Sisodia. PTI

“If there is shortage of a teacher in any school, then the principal need not ask the deputy director or send file to him. Now, the principals will be able to appoint retired teachers of government schools for such vacancies,” Sisodia said.

Retired TGT and PGT teachers of government schools will have to register themselves on the education department’s website if they want to apply for such posts. They will be able to select a school of their choice, a senior government official said.

The applicants will be interviewed at the school concerned by a selection committee comprising principal, a teacher and two to three members of the school management committee, he said.

The retired teachers who are not selected in any school, will be included in a panel to be prepared by the education department for future appointments as the need may arise, the official said.

Sisodia RPT Sisodia said it is often difficult to permit teachers to go on leave due to shortage of teaching staff. Appointment of retired teachers as per need will solve this problem.

Previously, the government had allowed school principals to appoint estate managers for maintenance of cleanliness and sanitation. Earlier, the principals or teachers were engaged in ensuring cleanliness at the schools but now the estate managers discharge this duty, the official said.

First Published On : Dec 7, 2016 08:43 IST

Urdu poetry has done wonders to calm hearts in Kashmir: CJI Thakur

Jammu: Urdu poetry has done wonders to calm the hearts of people, especially in Jammu and Kashmir, which has seen so much violence and bloodshed, Chief Justice of India Justice TS Thakur has said.

Chief Justice of India TS Thakur. CNN-News18

Chief Justice of India TS Thakur. CNN-News18

“Urdu is a beautiful language. It warms the hearts of even those who have no relation to this language,” he said at an ‘Urdu mushaira’ in Jammu on Sunday.

“In today’s situation where there is so much of violence and bloodshed everywhere, especially in this state (Valley), the effort of Urdu poets to present the reality is worth appreciating,” he said.

The mushaira was organised by the department of Law and Justice and JK Academy of Art Culture and Languages in honor of the Chief Justice of India.

Noted poets of the state participated in the event and enthralled the audience with their creation.

Besides others, the programme was attended by Chairman Legislative Council Haji Anayat Ali, Minister for Law and Justice Abdul Haq Khan, Minister for Revenue, Relief and Rehabilitation Syed Basharat Bukhari, Minister of State for Education Priya Sethi, Secretary JKAACL Aziz Hajini and senior jurists.

The mushaira was presided over by noted poet Aresh. The poets depicted the contemporary socio-political scenario through their poetry and also highlighted the issues faced by the common man.

First Published On : Dec 5, 2016 11:53 IST

Maoists shunning violence and joining mainstream society: Chhattisgarh education minister

Rameswaram: Chhattisgarh government’s efforts to make Maoists shun violence and join the mainstream of society are yielding positive results with several ultras laying down arms, Chhattisgarh School Education Minister Kedarnath Kashyap said on Saturday.

“Many Maoists are quitting Maoism to lead a normal life.” he said during a visit to the temple town.

Representational image. Reuters.

Representational image. Reuters.

The minister said the welfare schemes announced by the Raman Singh government have created a better environment for economic development of the tribal-dominated regions and also helped win the confidence of the people.

More and more children in these regions are now getting attracted to educational institutions as the government was taking steps to provide all kinds of facilities for them to pursue quality education, he said.

On the education front, Kashyap said development of any state depends on the quality of education being provided and to strengthen it, the administration was making concerted efforts.

“The state government is taking effective steps to provide quality education to the children, especially those belonging to the tribal community,” he said.

To ensure quality education to all, more schools were being set up every year by the government, he added.

First Published On : Dec 3, 2016 15:37 IST

Kochi: Three arrested for preparing textbooks that asked students to ‘lay down their lives for Islam’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Three persons associated with a Mumbai-based educational research organisation were arrested here for allegedly preparing school textbooks with ‘objectionable and non-secular’ content, police said. Sources in the Kochi Police said the arrest of three persons from Mumbai-based ‘Burooj Realization’ was made following its investigation into a case against a school here for allegedly teaching students objectionable content and exhorting them to lay down their lives for Islam. The accused are allegedly responsible for preparing contents for the controversial textbooks taught at the Peace International School at Thammanam in Kochi, a police official told PTI.They were arrested from Kochi, the official said. He, however, declined to provide details.The controversial school in Kochi is run by a trust headed by influential local businessmen. It is not clear if the curriculum was drafted by persons close to controversial preacher Zakir Naik. Police had earlier registered a case under IPC sections 153 A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc, and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony) and 34 (acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention) against the school principal, administrator and three trustees.The case was registered in October this year on the basis of a report filed by the Ernakulam District Education Officer, stating that “what was being taught was not secular”.Police had said Islamic curriculum was being followed in the school and students were being exhorted to lay down their lives for Islam.The school has classes from LKG till eighth standard.

Haryana board makes Aadhaar mandatory for Class 10 and 12 exams

Thu, 1 Dec 2016-10:53pm , Chandigarh , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Board of School Education Haryana (BSEH) has made it mandatory for students of Class 10 and 12 to have Aadhaar card while applying for the 2017 examination. The candidates will benefit from the move in many ways.The use of Aadhaar will prevent forgery of certificates and impersonation cases, and ensure that the candidates’ details are complete and accurate, Chairman, BSEH, Jagbir Singh said in a statement on Thursday. Aadhaar was used in the examination process earlier too, though it was not mandatory, Singh said.The Board has taken several steps to ensure smooth implementation of the decision. Schools which did not provide Aadhaar of candidates earlier may now fill up the relevant column in the checklist sent by the Board, he said.

Access to playfields mandatory for schools, says government

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Access to playfields and engagement of physical education instructor has been made a mandatory requirement for all schools under the Right to Education Act, government told the Lok Sabha on Thursday.Union Sports Minister Vijay Goel said government recognises the role of sports and physical education in the holistic development of children and youth in the country. “As part of this policy, the government has made access to play fields and engagement of physical education instructor a mandatory requirement for all schools under the Right to Education Act,” he said during Question Hour.The Minister said the CBSE places special importance on co-scholastic areas which includes sports and physical fitness and it is expected that the state education boards would also emulate the CBSE example in due course.Goel said a scheme called ‘Khelo India – National Programme for Development of Sports’ is being implemented by the Sports Ministry as a central sector scheme from the current financial (2016-17). The scheme provides for holding of annual sports competitions in two age group – (i) under 14 and (ii) under 17 all over the country to encourage mass participation of both boys and girls in sports in both urban and rural areas and identification of talented sportspersons through competitions and creation of sports infrastructure facilities, he said.

Delhi University adopts UGC amendments; teachers say it can lead to job loss

New Delhi: Delhi University on Tuesday adopted recent University Grants Commission’s amendments, which teachers claim could lead to around 4,000 temporary teachers losing their jobs due to changed workload.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

DU’s academic council on Tuesday met to discuss 3rd and 4th amendment of UGC and recommendations of a vice-chancellor appointed committee on the issue of appointments and promotion of teachers in colleges and departments, amid protests from teachers.

The agenda was to “consider a proposal to adopt the gazette notifications issued by University Grants Commission (UGC) on 4th May 2016 (3rd Amendment) and July 11, 2016 (4th Amendment) regarding minimum qualification for appointment of teachers and other academic staff”.

DU Registrar Tarun Das released a statement late night and said, “Today the AC deliberated upon the issue of 3rd and 4th amendments of the UGC Regulation in all its ramifications and adopted the same amendments in principle.”

Teachers, however, claimed that the decision has been deferred and their demand to expand the committee was accepted.

“The existing committee is not representative as there are no elected teacher members. The committee will be expanded and will give its recommendations,” said Nachiketa Singh, an academic council member.

The university statement said the expanded committee will look into the operational aspects in context of DU and its colleges.

Teachers had earlier this year boycotted the evaluation process against the UGC guidelines on their service conditions. The protest was also against the Academic Performance Indicator (API)—the point system which determines their promotion levels. Teachers claim the UGC notification makes the API stringent.

In May, the Delhi University vice chancellor had appointed a three-member committee to look into the issue of appointments.

First Published On : Nov 30, 2016 07:33 IST

India observes Constitution Day today

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>India observes its Constitution Day on Saturday, as it was on this day in 1949, the Constituent Assembly adopted the Constitution, however, it came into force a year later.The government had last year, decided to observe 26th November as Constitution Day to honour our Constitution and its promulgation. Activities like mock Parliament, essay and debate competitions are being organised across the country on the occasion. Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has also asked the affiliated schools to celebrate the day.The day is celebrated to value and preserve the rich heritage of composite culture and to develop the scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform.Also to promote harmony and the spirit of common brotherhood amongst all countrymen, to renounce practices derogatory to the dignity of women. Constitution Day will work as a catalyst and the day will also promote to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wild life and to have compassion for living creatures.Prime Minister Narendra Modi released two books on the Constitution in New Delhi yesterday.Speaking on the occasion, he said it is important to connect to the spirit of the Constitution and to be aware of its various articles. He also said that though the nation celebrates Republic Day on 26th January with pride, it is incomplete without celebrating Constitution Day on 26th November.

Delhi Chief Secretary Kewal Kumar Sharma removed, may trigger fresh Centre-AAP govt tussle

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Centre today removed Delhi Government’s Chief Secretary Kewal Kumar Sharma and named him as Secretary in the Department of Higher Education in Union HRD Ministry, a move which is likely to start a fresh tug of war between the Arvind Kejriwal government and Narendra Modi dispensation.”The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet-led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved appointment of Sharma as Officer on Special Duty in the Department of Higher Education.””The officer will take over as Secretary, Department of Higher Education, Ministry of Human Resources Development, on superannuation of the present incumbent Vinay Sheel Oberoi”, an order issued by Department of Personnel and Training said, without citing any reason.Oberoi’s retirement is due in February next year.Sharma, an 1983 batch IAS officer of Union territories cadre, had taken over as the Chief Secretary in the Delhi government on March 9 last year.Born in February 2, 1958, he still has over an year of service left.

Demonetisation in Kerala: Terror outfits use contraband money to indoctrinate youths

Kerala is one of the few states where demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes generated so much heat. The state witnessed a rare phenomenon of the entire state Cabinet sitting on a day-long dharna with the mutually acrimonious ruling party and the Opposition joining hands against the Union Government over the issue.

Economic experts are wondering why the demonetisation move aimed at flushing out black money has met with so much protest in Kerala, which incidentally is the country’s first total banking and completely digitised state. They feel it could be because of pressure from the black money lobbies.

Firstpost spoke to a cross-section of experts to get a dispassionate view of the situation. This is the third in a four-part report. You can read the first part here and the second part here.

No one in Kerala believed that terrorism could take root in the state, but the developments since the demolition of the Babri Masjid in 1992 forced them to change their perception.

Many outfits borne out of the Muslim anger later took radical turns.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

Seeds of radical thoughts sowed by outfits like the National Development Front (NDF), which was one of the first radical outfits to be established after the mosque was pulled down, have made the state today a breeding ground for terrorists. Police and intelligence sources see the role of hawala money and counterfeit currency behind the transformation.

Sources said many of these outfits use the money to promote and propagate radical thoughts. Though finance for terror comes from many sources, Saudi Arabia is said to be the single largest financier of terror in India. Saudi contributes more to terror because many in the country share their ideology.

The money for terror outfits in the country is routed through Kerala, Uttar Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh. Officials have no clear idea about the amount of money arriving in the country for terror activities.

A recent report in said that 10 percent of all hawala transactions coming to India were terror finance. The report further said that terrorists were getting 30 percent of their funds from hawala.

Officials said it was difficult to detect terror fund as it gets mixed with hawala transfers made by the expatriates in the Middle East. The donor agencies also take special care not to send the money to people under the police radar. They have unassuming people to collect the money and take it to the targeted people.

Hormis Tharakan, former chief of Kerala state police and Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), says the bulk of contraband money received by radical outfits were going to indoctrinate youths. He said that terrorist outfits were now targeting young educated youths as they want people who are able to handle technology.

“Most of the people, who left the state in July with the aim of joining the Islamic State, are such people. The group of 21 youths from Kasargod and Palakkad who are suspected to have joined the Islamic State included engineers, doctors and business graduates,” Tharakan told Firstpost.

The former RAW chief said that youths from Kerala were getting increasingly drawn to radical groups because of their interactions with diverse forces across the world. They have been able to come into contact with different forces as a result of the migration.

“The IS and other terror outfits are spending more money on motivating such youngsters. They will also need their service if they succeed in their attempt to set up their Caliphate in various parts of the world,” Tharakan said adding that information suggested he had a dentist, who was among the 21 youths who crossed the border, and had set up a dental clinic at Khorasan in Afghanistan, a stronghold of IS.

The extremist organisations in the state have been using the funds they are getting to promote their radical thinking in a systematic manner by setting up communication and education channels. A school in Ernakulam funded by an Islamic agency introduced religious content in the teaching in addition to the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) syllabus that the school follows.

The religious lesson set by the Peace International School for Standard 2 students asked the pupil’s willingness to die for Islam. After directing the school to remove the lesson, the Education Department has referred the matter to the police, who have registered a case against the school authorities.

Peace International School had caught media attention after three of its employees joined the group of 21 missing youths from Kasargod and Palakkad. The school was also found to have received money from some suspicious sources.

The state police are probing two such transactions the school run by Kozhikode-based Niche group received from Kashmir and Hyderbad in August 2015. Niche group founded by MM Akbar, who is called the Zakir Naik of Kerala, is running two conversion centres at Kozhikode and Poonani in Malappuram district. A graduate in Physics, Akbar is a religious orator and an expert in comparative religion.

A senior police officer at Kozhikode said hawala money and fake currency were also being used to fund terror activities across the country. He pointed out that investigations had revealed that hawala money pumped into the state was used in the blasts at Delhi, Bangalore, Mumbai and Ahmedabad.

The money for terror outfits in the country is routed through Kerala, Uttar Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh. Officials have no clear idea about the amount of money arriving in the country for terror activities.

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) suspects the role of Mumbai blast accused Tahir Merchant alias Tahir Taklya behind two containers of counterfeit currency rumoured to have landed at Kochi port in 2009. They believe that Taklya, while working as a manager with a firm in Sharjah, had sourced the fake notes from Pakistan.

The NIA has launched a reinvestigation into the matter following fresh information received from a person who was arrested with fake notes worth Rs 72.5 lakh from the Kozhikode international airport.

The Kerala police, who investigated the rumour, did not register any case as no seizures were made. The state Bharatiya Janata Party has alleged the hand of higher ups in the then Left Democratic Front (LDF) government behind the mysterious disappearance of the two containers.

Mohammed Sabir alias KP Sabir alias Ayub, who is an accused in the case related to the attempt on the life of former chief minister late EK Nayanar, controls the terror-related fake Indian currency notes (FICN) cartel operating from Peshwar in Pakistan.

A native of Kannur in north Kerala, Sabir was the former president of the now banned Students Islamic Movement of India. His links with international terror cartel came to light after the Bengaluru serial blasts in 2008. According to intelligence sources, Sabir escaped to Pakistan immediately after the blasts on a fake passport.

Tharakan said that the role of contraband money behind terror strikes was minimal since weapons used in such strikes come mostly from Pakistan. The weapon now being used commonly is improvised explosive device (IED), he added.

Tharakan said that counterfeit currency was not being used much in terror operations. The fake currency is mostly being used by Pakistan to subvert the Indian economy. He said the neighbouring country was able to do it successfully as it was not easy to detect the Indian currency produced by them. They were using the same machines and ink used by India to print counterfeit Indian currency notes, he added.

Though criminal activities fuelled by hawala are on the increase the authorities have not been able to crack the rackets. CM Pradeepkumar, a retired superintendent of police who was among those who probed the Marad communal riots in Kozhikode, said police were unable to do much in hawala and fake currency note cases since they come under the purview of Directorate of Revenue Intelligence and other concerned agencies.

“When the police come across such cases, we arrest the culprits and hand over the case to the agencies concerned. The agencies in many cases let off the culprits after levying the fine,” Pradeepkumar said.

Former director general of police Jacob Punnose has additionally alleged lack of political support in tackling terror cases. He said that a strong case made by the police about the undercover operations of some terror modules in the 1990s was spurned by the then political leadership.

This was because of the general presumption that terrorism will not take root in Kerala. Even the police were not free from this complacency. The steady growth of radical forces from NDF in the early 1990s to the IS now has shaken off this complacency.

Part One: Hawala, fake notes play big role in state’s economic growth
Part Two: Curbs on cooperative banks are hurting Non-Resident Keralites

First Published On : Nov 23, 2016 19:24 IST

To promote education, J&K government waives off school fee of girls

Tue, 22 Nov 2016-04:48pm , Jammu , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>With an aim to provide free education to all girls, the Jammu and Kashmir government on Tuesday ordered waiving off their school fees in the state-run educational institutions up to higher-secondary level.”In order to encourage enrolment of the girl students in the schools and to further incentivise their education, sanction is hereby accorded to waive off school fee charged from the girl students in the state-run educational institutions up to higher secondary level with immediate effect,” an order issued by Commissioner Secretary of Education Department, Shaleen Kabra said in Jammu. The step comes as a fulfilment of the announcement in the budget of PDP-BJP government this year.

Puducherry CM V Narayanasamy meets fishermen injured in Sri Lankan Navy firing

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Puducherry Chief Minister V Narayanasamy on Tuesday called on the two Indian fishermen, who were injured in alleged firing by the Sri Lankan Navy, at the Indira Gandhi Government General Hospital and Research Institute here.He enquired about their health condition and wished them a speedy recovery. The chief minister was accompanied by Agriculture and Education Minister R Kamalakannan.R Balamurugan from Karaikal (Puducherry) and A Aravind from Tamil Nadu’s Nagapattinam sustained injuries when the Sri Lankan naval personnel allegedly opened fire at their fishing boat yesterday off the Kodiakarai coast, some 200 km from here. The fishermen were admitted to the government hospital here.Various political parties, including MDMK and PMK, in Tamil Nadu condemned the firing yesterday claiming that it happened in Indian waters and urged the Centre to take action to prevent recurrence of such incidents.

Haryana board exam results: Check BSEH results for Class 10 and Class 12 here

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Students from the Board of School Education Haryana (BSEH) can breathe a sigh of relief as the secondary and senior secondary reappear exam results have been declared.As per the Indian Express, the board in a statement said that the passing percentage of high school students is 34.51% in urban areas while in rural areas it is 30.68%. The pass percentage of high school students in urban areas is 34.51% and that if students in rural areas is 36.50%. Here’s what students can so to check results:1. The students should first go to the board’s official website.2. Senior secondary students can go visit this page for checking their results3. Secondary students can visit this page to check the results4. The students will have to enter their roll no or name to get the result. 5. They can save the results or get it printed. About the BSEH board as per the website:The Board of School Education Haryana, Bhiwani came into existence in 1969. The BSEH conducts the exams middle, high school and senior secondary school exams twice a year in Haryana in its affiliated schools.

Lost vision to pellets, J&K students still appear for exams

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A whiff of fresh air amid the unrest. For the record, the students, who suffered damage to their eye by pellet guns, sent a powerful message across when they wrote their Class X exams despite staring at a bleak future.Class X student Suhaib Nazir suffered vision impairment in one of his eyes when security forces fired pellets after clashes broke out in his area of Pulwama district in south Kashmir in July this year. Despite being operated once, the 16-year-old is unable to regain his eyesight.Suhaib decided to postpone his second surgery, and appear for his examination. “Doctors have recommended a second surgery. I told them that I will first sit for exams and later go for the operation,” said Suhaib.For Suhaib, education is the only means to achieve big in life and that is why he decided to give it a chance, despite not been able to concentrate fully. Such was his conviction that he did not opt for a writing assistant and wrote his papers on his own.“I did not opt for the assistant and wrote my papers myself. There was 50 per cent relaxation in the syllabus, which prompted me to write my papers before going for second surgery,” he said.More than 90 people have been killed and over 13,000 people injured in four-month unrest that started after the killing of Hizbul Mujahedeen poster boy Burhan Wani on July 7. Over 1,100 people, mostly teenagers, have suffered injuries in their eyes when security forces fired pellets to quell the violent mobs across Kashmir.Athar Hussain, 16, had undergone three surgeries to regain eyesight after he was hit by the pellets. So far doctors have little success in restoring his vision. He has been asked to remain ready for the fourth surgery so that he could regain his vision. When the exams were announced, Athar decided to give it a shot before going for the surgery. “It was difficult but I managed somehow. Education is the key and we have to pursue it,” he said.

India slips to 22nd spot in English proficiency ranking: Report

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>India has slipped two spots compared to last year in English proficiency rankings while China has improved its ranking, according to a new report. India is placed at 22 spot in the new report released by Swedish education company EF Education First in Beijing on Tuesday. In 2015, India was placed at 20 spot by the same study.Meanwhile, General English proficiency in China has improved year-on-year, but is still lingering at the intermediate to basic level, the report said. China which in recent putting an emphasis on English education rose eight places to 39 among 72 countries and regions figuring well above Pakistan which was placed at 48 spot.In China residents of Shanghai and Hong Kong were found to be the most proficient in English, state-run China Daily reported. The report is based on the EF Standard English Test results of 950,000 adults from 72 countries and regions across the world.The test, which consists of reading and listening, was developed by Education First. Elsewhere in the world, the report found that adults from the Netherlands are the best English speakers among people from non-English speaking countries. The Danes and Swedes ranked 2 and 3, respectively. Singapore ranked first in Asia for English proficiency followed by Malaysia, Philippines and India.

Scientists & researchers, here’s a chance to test your communication skills

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Young scientists, researchers and engineers, here’s your chance to make yourselves heard, especially if you are the kinds who can demystify complicated scientific subjects by making them easy to understand and interesting. For the first time, the British Council in India is accepting applications for FameLab, it’s international science communication training programme.“It’s a training programme in a competition format to get people to talk about science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine,” says Sharon Memis, Director West India, British Council. “It’s a bit like The X-Factor but with an intellectual slant.”Conceived as part of the Cheltenham Festival in 2005, FameLab partnered with British Council in 2007. More than 7,000 researchers from 30 countries across Europe, Asia and Africa have participated in the global competition thus far. The 2017 edition of FameLab is open to Indian participants for the first time, the deadline for which is November 15, 2016. “The year 2016 has been celebrated as the UK-India Year of Education, Research and Innovation, so it became the right time to bring this event to India now,” says Memis.The nine British Council offices across India have reached out to academic institutions such as the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISERs), as well as to private universities. While officials at the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre were unaware about the competition, Memis says they’ve already received 220 applications from India.To participate (see below), applicants will have to upload a three-minute video in which they’ll have to present a concept from their field of study in a manner that enthrals the viewer and the panel of judges. “Make it funny, make it dramatic, make it jaw-dropping, eye-opening, lightbulb-poppingly brilliant,” advises Memis. “It’s about how creative a participant can get. A panel of judges will shortlist those who can shine in content, clarity and charisma. Therefore the presentation has to be scientifically accurate, easy to understand and presented with a wink and a smile.”Following regional workshops and regional finals, a shortlist of 120 applicants will be selected, who will win a spot on the science communication workshop by Indian and UK facilitators. Three final winners will emerge from the national finals to be held in January 2017.Last year, the competition winner was Dr Abhimanyu Veerakumarasivam from University Putra Malaysia. The cancer researcher defeated 26 finalists for his explanation of the cell cycle and why a disruption in it leads to metastasis of cancer tumours. His presentation highlighted the importance of science communication in making public health issues accessible to commoners as well as creating awareness of how cancers can be prevented through lifestyle changes. “Veerakumarasivam’s talk was informative and inspiring, winning the judges over on content, clarity and charisma,” adds Memis.How to apply for FameLab— Researchers, scientists, engineers over 20 years of age have to fill an application form available on website and attach a short video of their presentation. Applications are open until 15 November 2016 on the website— A panel of judges will review the applications and come up with a shortlist of the top 30 participants from four regions — North (8-10 December at IIT Delhi), South (27-29 November at University of Kerala), East (4-6 December at KIIT Bhubaneswar) and West (13-15 December at IIT Bombay) India.— These 120 applicants will then be part of a two-and-a-half day residential workshop on science communication conducted by expert Science Communicators from the UK along with Indian facilitators.— Winners from the regional rounds will also win a masterclass training programme before completing at a national final. The national winner will compete at the FameLab International Grand Finals in June 2017 at the Cheltenham Science Festival in the UK.

‘With 95% exam attendance, J-K students gave befitting reply to militants’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Students from Jammu and Kashmir have given a befitting reply to terrorists as 95% of them appeared for their class XII board examination in the state, which is in itself is a powerful “surgical strike”, HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar said on Tuesday.”In Kashmir Valley, for the past several months, schools were shut, over 30 had been burnt. But students from J-K, Leh and Ladakh have given a befitting reply to terrorists with a presence of 95% in the board exam held on Monday,” he said.Emphasising that this was “India’s reply”, Javadekar said the country believed in education and progress and the message was that no design to break the country would succeed.”I’m proud of those children and their parents who are the strength of India. Education is the way to progress. They have understood and given this befitting reply. We have seen the surgical strike of the army, but this reply given by students is also a powerful surgical strike,” he said.Javadekar, who was speaking at an event ‘Kala Utsav’, said all should get a basic level of education that supports them in life but added that unique talents should be brought to the fore as well.Later speaking on the sidelines of the event, he made it clear that compulsory class X board examinations will be introduced for CBSE students from the next academic session 2017 18.”There is no confusion, today more than 23 million students appear for tenth board examination over the country through state boards. For CBSE also half the students appear for the exam, while half don’t appear because there was an option available,” Javadekar said.Now those 2 million who chose the option will also have to take the exam, he said.The measure, however, he emphasised will be implemented from the next academic year, saying goalposts or rules should not be shifted mid-course. The move will bring about parity with state boards, he said.

Culture ministry loses PM Modi’s pet project

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>One year after its launch, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ambitious Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat cultural initiative to bind states has been taken away from the ministry of culture and handed over to three other ministries that may be able to better implement it.The campaign, announced by the PM on October 31 last year on the 140th birth anniversary of Sardar Patel, will now be carried out by the ministries of Human Resource Development (HRD), Social Justice and Empowerment, and Youth Affairs and Sports.The culture ministry that was to steer the campaign earlier will now only look at the cultural aspects. “It was realised that the initiative is beyond culture exchange and so other important ministries of the government that enjoy more state partners have been roped in to roll out the campaign,” explained an official.The National Council of Education Research and Training (NCERT) and National University of Educational Planning and Administration (NUEPA) that fall under the HRD ministry will be preparing modules for schools and universities. The social justice ministry will ensure that marginalised communities, including Schedule Castes and Schedule Tribes, are made part of the programme that aims at unifying various communities and geographies across the country. And the sports ministry is being directed to rope in sports bodies across states to organise interstate programmes.The nationwide initiative was aimed at promoting cultures, traditions and languages of one state in the other states. The idea was to ensure exchange of people, ideas, music, cuisine, theatre, sports, handicrafts, painting, and literature between the various cultural diversities of India to imbibe a feeling of brotherhood, an official said.One year on, however, the Ministry of Culture has been unable to come with a concrete plan and has cited unavailability of adequate infrastructure and manpower.”While exchange of culture remains the focus of the campaign, PMO through its MyGov portal and a new mobile application will be providing the initial platform and will be monitoring the campaign,” the official said.Every state in India is being grouped with a culturally and geographically diverse partner for the first year of the campaign. Jammu and Kashmir, for instance, has been paired with Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra with Odisha, Delhi with Sikkim. “We have tried to pair diverse states together. The schools and universities in these states will be paired with each other. Professionals will be able to exchange best government practice.”What it entailsThe campaign will facilitate joint assembly sessions and legislative delegations between paired states. The apex committee for the campaign will be chaired by the Prime Minister himself with other ministries contributing to the programme.

Kashmir: Class XII board exams begin peacefully after months of schools being shut

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Class XII board examinations began peacefully in Kashmir on Monday with nearly 95 per cent of the 32,000 students writing their papers, marking the resumption of educational activity in the Valley after schools remained shut for over four months due to the unrest.Barring a few minor law and order incidents in some places, the test on the first day was conducted smoothly at more than 450 centres across Kashmir, including 73 in the summer capital here, officials said.About 94.88 per cent of the total 31,964 students appeared in the examination, an official of Jammu and Kashmir Board of School Education (BOSE), which conducts the examinations, said.The official said the overall attendance of the students was up by 2.56 per cent from last year.Over 480 centres have been set up for about 48,000 candidates for Class XII board examinations across Kashmir division, the official said, adding that the students who opted for the sixth paper appeared for the test today.The government had decided to hold the exams as scheduled despite demands by parents that they be put off as the unrest had disrupted educational activities in the Valley.Massive security arrangements were put in place across the Valley for the smooth conduct of the examination.However, minor stone-pelting incidents were reported at a few places in Pulwama, Shopian, Budgam, and Baramulla, which did not affect the conduct of the examinations.The miscreants were chased away by the security forces without affecting the test, a police official said.The BOSE official said the highest appearance percentage of the students was recorded in central Kashmir’s Budgam district where about 96.10 per cent of the students wrote their papers.Budgam was followed by Anantnag in south Kashmir where 96.01 per cent students appeared in the examination, he said.The official said North Kashmir’s Bandipora witnessed the lowest attendance at 92.80 per cent.Two other south Kashmir districts Pulwama and Shopian recorded 94.65 and 93.66 per cent, respectively.South Kashmir has been the worst hit in the ongoing unrest in the valley following the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in an encounter in July.North Kashmir’s Bandipora, Baramulla and Kupwara districts recorded attendance at 92.80, 93.70 and 93.10 per cent, respectively, the official said, adding Srinagar and Ganderbal in central Kashmir recorded 95.83 and 92.93 per cent attendance.

Despite anti-immigration sentiments, number of Indian students going to US rise by 25% this year: Report

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Despite anti-immigration sentiments during and after the heated presidential polls in the United States of America, number of Indian students going to United States has gone up by 25% in 2015-16, reveals the latest “Open Doors” report released in US on Monday.Nearly 1,66,000 students are studying in various US universities at undergraduate and postgraduate levels at present compared to only 1,33,000 lakh students a year ago.On the other hand, only 4,438 US students came to India (a drop from 4,588 from the previous year), that too for short-term and semester-long courses, says the report.The Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange is published annually by the Institute of International Education in partnership with the US Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.India accounts for one out of every six international students in the United States. Approximately three-fifths of Indian students are at the graduate level and three-fourths are in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics studies.While China remains the top country of origin of international students in the US, increasing by 8% to 328,000, India’s growth outpaced China’s second year in a row. Both the countries account for nearly half of the overseas enrolment in the US.“Students from China and India remained the leading countries of origin and accounted for 84% of the growth in international students in 2015-16. For the second year in a row, the largest growth was in the number of students from India, primarily at the graduate level and in optional practical training (OPT).” says the report. Richard R. Verma US Ambassador Higher education continues to be the bedrock of our people to people ties. More students from India studied in the United States than ever before – at all levels – and I am especially pleased to see the record back-to-back, year-on-year growth in student numbers.Overall, US saw 7% rise in the number of international students in 2015-16 with more than one million overseas students studying in US varsities. International students bring nearly $36 billion to the US economy.Slow pace of reforms in the Indian higher education sector and the skewed number of world class institutions are supposed to be two main factors behind increasing exodus of Indian talent to US and other countries.Moreover, increased efforts of US varsities in wooing Indian students is another major factor behind this jump, say experts.Indian government has started ranking of our institutions, have opened new IIMs and IITs but these are too little too late, say academicians.“The government announced a slew of measures but they are yet to be delivered. New education policy is yet to be implemented. None of our institutions figure in the list of top 200 Universities in the world. Reforms in University education seems is still far away making youngsters anxious and looking for better options abroad,” says a professor of Mumbai University. “Unless we expand quality University education, we would continue losing out a higher number of bright brains to the west along with foreign reserve,” said an India student currently studying in a Stanford University. However, International politics expert give credit of this steep rise to the improvement in diplomatic relations between India and US recently due to personal cordial relations between the two state heads-Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and outgoing US president Barack Obama.There are other factors too such as a decline in interest for universities in UK. “US varsities have gained on a declining interest of Indians for UK Universities in last three years mainly due to the introduction of stricter visa norms by the UK government,” says an overseas education expert.

Lucknow: Judge asks medical college to pay Rs 25 lakh each to 150 students for wrong admissions

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court on Monday ordered the management of Dr MC Saxena Medical College in the city to pay Rs 25 lakh damage per student for “wrongly admitting” 150 of them in the MBBS 2015-16 course.It directed the management of the college to deposit the entire amount in respect of all the 150 students with the Director General of Medical Education, Uttar Pradesh within two months.The Director General, Medical Education, in turn, shall distribute the money among the students after due verification.The court though refused to grant relief as sought by the petitioner students and dismissed all the writ petitions filed by them in the matter.The petitioners had sought a direction to allow them to appear in the first year MBBS examination for 2015-16.The judgment was delivered by Justice Devendra Kumar Arora on six writ petitions moved by some students.State counsel Sanjay Bhasin said the college had no affiliation or recognition of Medical Council of India (MCI) and 150 students were wrongly admitted without proper counselling, in a process which was “neither transparent nor fair”.”This court is constrained to observe that there has been a wilful disobedience by the respondent medical college of the orders passed by the apex court, which is nothing but an interference with the administration of justice. Disobedience of an order of a court, which is wilful, shakes the very foundation of the judicial system and can erode the faith and confidence reposed by the people in the judiciary, and undermines the rule of law,” the court said.It further observed that the medical college had shown “scant respect” to the order passed by the highest court of the country and proceeded, under haste, to impart medical education to the petitioners in the first year MBBS course, possibly to make an “unlawful gain, adopting unhealthy practices”.

Delhi under cloud of smog, considers traffic measures to ease pollution | Reuters

By Sanjeev Miglani

NEW DELHI A million school children were forced to stay at home, thousands of employees reported sick and long queues formed outside shops selling face masks on Monday as New Delhi struggled with its worst pollution for nearly 20 years.The Indian capital’s government was considering whether to bring back a scheme to reduce traffic, a minister said on Monday, as air pollution remained many times above what are considered to be safe levels for a second week.New Delhi’s streets were shrouded in a heavy gray haze of smoke, ash and other pollutants, and residents complained of breathlessness, watering of eyes, aggravated coughs and wheezing.”We are now calling this a pollution epidemic. Our advisory to people is to stay at home, if possible work from home,” said K.K. Aggarwal, president of the Indian Medical Association.Levels of PM 2.5, tiny particulate matter that reaches deep into the lungs, were above 700 in the city’s worst affected areas on Monday.That is nearly 30 times a mean guideline of 25 micrograms per cubic meter on average over a 24-hour period set by the World Health Organization (WHO), which says outdoor air pollution killed 3.7 million people globally in 2012.”It’s been a nightmare. My toddler and I woke up from a nap coughing as if pepper had been sprinkled on our throats,” said Tara Chowdhry, a Delhi resident.”I climbed trees in this city. I played near India Gate. Now we are trapped in our living rooms next to air purifiers.”As evening fell, the air quality improved as the wind picked up, but it was still at levels considered unhealthy.Children have been among the hardest hit. Many crammed into Shishu Sadan children’s hospital in west Delhi for respiratory spasms and aggravated asthma, pneumonia and bronchitis.”A few months ago it was dengue and chikungunya in Delhi and now we have this,” said pediatrician Lavraj Gupta, referring to disease outbreaks in the city of 17 million, many of whom live without access to clean drinking water and basic sanitation.

A combination of smoke from burning farm residue in surrounding states, fireworks for the Hindu festival of Diwali, dust from construction work and vehicle emissions have pushed pollution levels to their highest in 17 years.Mohammad Kamil, manager of a store that sells face masks, said he used to sell about six masks on average in a week, but now they had 150 to 200 customers a day.”We have run out of stock, but we are taking orders. We will provide it to everyone,” he said.The demand for air purifiers also jumped, both from locals and foreigners working in India.”BRAND INDIA”

Between 5 and 10 percent of the workforce in Delhi and its surrounding areas had reported sick over the past week, the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry said in a survey of 150 companies.It warned that the pollution could deal a blow to “brand India”, as the country seeks to attract investment and create hundreds of thousands of jobs for its young population.India, the world’s fastest growing major economy, is home to four of the world’s 10 cities with the worst air pollution, the WHO said in May. New Delhi ranked 11th.Delhi Health Minister Satyendra Kumar Jain said the administration was preparing to restrict the use of private vehicles through the “odd-even” scheme that was introduced temporarily last winter to combat pollution.Under the system, cars were allowed on the road only on alternate days, according to whether their number plates were odd or even.

“There is a review meeting later this week. We are considering to bring back the odd-even scheme, it is one of many measures,” he told reporters.Delegates attending a global conference on controlling tobacco consumption said they were taken by surprise by the level of pollution.”I was shocked, did not expect this. It’s kind of funny that we are at a conference that aims to have cleaner air and are at a venue that does not have that,” said Irene Ryes, a delegate from the Philippines.U.S. embassy spokesman Joseph Kruzich said the embassy had employed measures, including supplementary air filtration and construction of vestibules, to provide clean air in workspaces.British Prime Minister Theresa May was visiting India, and a reception for her at High Commissioner Dominic Asquith’s residence, located in the heart of Lutyens’ Delhi, will go ahead on Monday evening as planned, an official said.”Officially, we are saying nothing at all about pollution,” a British diplomat said.Delhi authorities have blamed the governments of nearby states of Haryana and Punjab for compounding the city’s problems by allowing farmers to burn paddy stubble ahead of the wheat sowing season, even though the practice is banned.Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s government urged people not to use pollution for political gain.”If we engage in any blame game, the issue won’t get resolved. The problem right now is Delhi’s 20 million people are finding it difficult to breathe,” said Anil Madhav Dave, federal environment minister. (Additional reporting by Krishna Das, Douglas Busvine, Aditya Kalra and Malini Menon; Editing by Mike Collett-White)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Kashmir separatists call for joint meeting to discuss ‘future course of action’ in the valley

Srinagar: On Sunday, the separatists in Kashmir called for a joint meeting of all stakeholders on Tuesday to chalk out the “future course of action” with regard to the ongoing unrest in the Valley, while rejecting Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s statement that development was the key to a solution.

“There is an urge to take all the stakeholders into confidence for taking the ongoing movement forward. All the forums among whom traders, educationists, transporters, civil society members, religious, social and political organisations, bar association and people from other walks of life have been called on Tuesday, 8 November … to jointly deliberate and discuss future course of action,” the separatists said in a joint statement.

The decision to invite the stakeholders for consultations came after a meeting of the chairmen of both Hurriyat factions – Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq – and JKLF chief Yasin Malik at Geelani’s residence at Hyderpora here.

Representational image. PTIRepresentational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

The statement said the separatist leaders “unanimously rejected” the statement of the Prime Minister “wherein he has said that development is the corner stone of Kashmir solution.”

“It was asserted that the struggle … is not meant for any economic gains or packages but for the determination of future of millions of humans living in Jammu Kashmir,” it said, adding “such manoeuvering has failed” earlier and would fail now as well.

The separatists also condemned the burning of educational institutions in the Valley, saying “this phenomenon is very grave” and alleged that these were intended “to defame the ongoing struggle.”

Condemning the recent relaxation of the syllabus by Jammu and Kashmir Board of School Education, the separatists termed it as “ridiculous” and said the move “will tell upon the educational standards and individual potential of the students.”

J&K Police crack school burning cases; 10 arrested

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Jammu and Kashmir Police achieved a first major breakthrough when they arrested 10 people allegedly involved in the torching of two schools in the Kulgam district of south Kashmir.Superintendent of Police, Kulgam, Shridhar Patil told DNA they have arrested 10 people for torching Government High School Mirhama and Jawahar Navodhaya Vidyalaya in the district.“During investigations it has been revealed that the school burning incidents was a mischief by miscreants. The arrested people are also involved in the stone pelting incidents during the unrest,” he said. Police have also zeroed in on some more people involved in the torching of other schools in south Kashmir. However, the accused have escaped outside the Kashmir valley. “Many of them have fled outside the valley. I do not have the exact figures. But we do not know where they have gone. What we know is that they are not at their homes,” said Patil.Sources said police is investigating the links of the accused with the separatists in Kashmir. So far separatists have denied any role in the torching of schools and in fact cried conspiracy to defame the ongoing agitation in the valley.The arrest comes days after Jammu and Kashmir high court took a suo moto notice of the “unfortunate and horrendous episodes” and called for collective efforts to save the school buildings from ”mysterious enemies of education”.“All concerned at their respective levels and the authorities of the government in particular shall immediately take all necessary measures so as to protect these school buildings,” the court said.The court had also directed the Divisional Commissioner Kashmir, Inspector General of Police, Kashmir, and Director School Education Kashmir to devise modes and methods in collaboration with higher authorities and lower officials which shall be effective in protecting school institutions.More than 26 schools have been set ablaze by unknown arsonists in Kashmir since the unrest began after the killing of Hizbul Mujahedeen poster boy Burhan Wani.

J&K: Fire at residential quarter of educational institute in Shopian

Tue, 1 Nov 2016-11:45pm , Srinagar , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a suspected case of sabotage, a fire broke out at a residential quarter of an educational institute in Shopian district of Kashmir on Tuesday night, police said. The fire broke out in the residence of the principal of District Institute of Education and Training at Shopian around 10 PM, a police official said.Local residents and fire brigade personnel rushed to the spot and put out the fire, he said. Officials said the cause of the fire was not immediately known, but did not rule out the possibility of sabotage. Over the past few months, around 25 schools have been burnt down mysteriously across the Kashmir Valley which is under the grip of unrest following the killing of militant commander Burhan Wani in an encounter in early July.

Kashmir school fire: Jammu & Kashmir govt sees separatist hand

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Amid increasing incidents of burning of schools, the state government on Monday pointed accusing fingers at separatists, saying they had started the “era of destruction” in Kashmir but were now trying to find an escape route. Education Minister Naeem Akhtar also ruled out any probe into these incidents, saying, “One does not have to research for the source of this huge conspiracy against the hapless people of Kashmir.”In a statement, he said, “burning of schools is one of the ploys to keep the fire burning (in Kashmir)… It is the same people who are promoting looting of banks, torching of shops and vehicles, stoning innocents, intimidation of citizens, who are responsible for burning the educational institutes.”Over the last few months, around 25 schools have been burnt down mysteriously across the Kashmir valley. Asserting that “no inquiry is needed to find out who is behind all this”, the minister said, “It is those people who have created this tirade against education, because they see it as a threat to their vested interests.” Akhtar said the separatists had mounted a tiger and are now trying hard to keep the conflict going.Targeting Yasin Malik, the minister said in the initial phase, the JKLF chief and others were “at the forefront of driving the shutdowns but now they have distanced themselves and thrown the ball solely in the court of (hardline Hurriyat Conference chairman) Syed Ali Shah Geelani.”Defending his decision to hold Board examinations as per schedule, the Education Minister said the government is not trying to invent or impose anything new in the academic arena of the state.”We are only trying to safeguard the career of lakhs of students, whereas separatists, with their shutdown calls, are trying to destroy their academic career,” said Akhtar, who is also government spokesman.Referring to the Malik’s statement that the burning of schools in Kashmir was a conspiracy to defame the separatist leaders, Akhtar said, “those saying that government decision to hold exams has forced students to torch the educational institutes should go for a self-introspection”.The Education Minister appealed to people from all schools of thought to keep the education conflict-neutral. “Just see Palestine or the recent happenings in Aleppo, Syria. Their schools are never shut even if there are bombings, killings and full-fledged war. They know that education is the key and in no way they can stop education. Compared to that, Kashmir is a peaceful region, except for the insecurity caused by the hartal politics being promoted through stone-pelting and intimidation,” Akhtar said.”In Kashmir too, we faced unfortunate deaths for which all of us are heartbroken and pained, but for saving the future generation, education has to go on,” he said.Taking on Yasin Malik, Akhtar said, “It is the examination time for leaders like Mohammad Yasin Malik who is now facing questions from the people over the way they are pushing Kashmiris into perpetual economic and academic disempowerment.” He also asked him to clarify whether he is with militancy or non-violence.”Malik is famous for saying that he was inspired by (Mahatma) Gandhiji when he announced ceasefire and abandoned his path to martyrdom whereas he is promoting others to do so and continues to glorify violence. Now I want to ask him whether he stands with violence or Gandhi Ji’s principles of non-violence. Has he again changed his thoughts,” Akhtar asked.Congress wants sternest punishmentCondemning the burning down of schools in Kashmir, state Congress chief G A Mir on Monday said it is an attack on the future of children and the culprits must be identified for sternest punishment.”We express disappointment over the incidents of burning down of school buildings in various parts of the valley and strongly condemn these unlawful activities, which are being performed to destroy the career of our children,” Mir said.The former Tourism Minister said it the inefficiency and incompetence of the State, which is not able to protect the infrastructure in the valley and secure the future of children from being getting ruined. He said the burning down of schools is an attack on the future of our children and the culprits must be identified sternest punishment.”The attack on schools is a ploy to damage the education system. The government must come out of the deep slumber and stop such unlawful activities,” he said.Describing burning down of schools as one of the greatest tragedies, the Congress unit chief said the government must rise to the occasion to protect education institutions, as such type of unfortunate incidents reflect the utter failure of the state government.

Kashmir fire: J&K HC asks civic officials to protect school buildings from being burnt

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Jammu and Kashmir High Court on Monday directed police and civil administration officials to devise modes and methods for protecting schools which have become target of miscreants in the ongoing unrest in the Valley. “All the three responsible officers present in the court are directed to sit together along with higher authorities and lower officials and to devise modes and methods which will be effective in protecting school institutions,” a division bench of the court said.The directions were issued to the Inspector General of Police, the Divisional Commissioner and the Director of School Education of Kashmir.The high court took suo motu cognizance of the reports about 26 schools being burnt in Kashmir Valley over the past 115 days of the unrest which started following the killing of terrorist organisation Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in early July. The case was heard by Justices Mohammad Yaqoob Mir and Ali Mohammad Magrey.The court also directed the Chief Secretary and the Director General of Police to issue necessary instructions to their district level officers including Deputy Commissioners and SPs to take all preventive measures as shall be necessary for saving the school buildings from being burnt and to ensure that no other school building is harmed or destroyed.”Further the mysterious enemies of education shall be unmasked and dealt with iron hand,” the court said.The bench lashed out at the state government, saying the “administrative authorities are required to have resort to protective measures but they are still in deep slumber, appear not to have devised any protective policy for protecting school buildings”. The bench observed that the mysterious burning of centres of learning has sent shock waves awakening all to ponder.”Education is the main factor for intellectual excellence and prosperity. Imparting education in the centres of learning has no other viable substitute,” it added.The court also expressed hope that the “mysterious persons” will stop burning school buildings and “also hope that the citizens will also help in protecting school buildings”. The court listed the case for next hearing on November 7 and directed the three officials to remain present.

SC to hear PIL for making ‘Yoga’ compulsory for students

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Supreme Court would next week hear a plea seeking framing of a ‘National Yoga Policy’ and making ‘Yoga’ compulsory for students of Class I-VIII across the country.A bench comprising Chief Justice T S Thakur and Justices D Y Chandrachud and L Nageswara Rao has agreed to hear on November 7 the PIL that seeks inclusion of Yoga as a compulsory subject in the curriculum on grounds including that its “secular” and right to health was an integral part of right to life. The plea, filed by Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, a lawyer and Delhi BJP spokesperson, has sought a direction to the Ministry of Human Resources Development, NCERT, NCTE and the CBSE to “provide standard textbooks of ‘Yoga and Health Education’ for students of Class I-VIII keeping in spirit various fundamental rights such as right to life, education and equality.”‘Right to Health’ is an integral part of Right to Life under the Article 21. It includes protection, prevention and cure of the health and is a minimum requirement to enable a person to live with human dignity.”State has a obligation to provide health facilities to all the citizens, especially to children and adolescents. In a Welfare State, it is obligation of the State to ensure the creation and sustaining of conditions congenial to good health,” the plea said. It said that right to health cannot be secured without providing ‘Yoga and Health Education’ to all children or framing a ‘National Yoga Policy’ to promote and propagate it.”There are about 20 crore children, throughout the country, studying in primary and junior classes at the cost of public exchequer. Yoga should be taught to them as a compulsory subject as per National Curriculum Framework 2005, notified under Section 7(6) of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act 2009…”, it said.It also sought a direction to the Ministries of Women and Child Development and Social Justice and Empowerment to declare ‘First Sunday’ of every month as ‘Health Day’ on the lines of ‘Polio Day’ to make the people aware about health- hazards and health-hygiene.” The plea also said that a court at California had held that “yoga is secular”.

Kashmir unrest: Nearly 20 schools burnt down as education becomes biggest casualty of protests

The 110-day-long Kashmir unrest, following the death of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani, has crippled Kashmir and normal life in the valley. As many as 85 people, including two cops, have been killed and several thousand others injured in the ongoing unrest; around 5,000 security forces personnel have also been injured in the clashes with protesters. However, the biggest casualty thus far has been education and academia and it has suffered sabotage in ways more than one.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

According to a report in Hindustan Timesduring the past three-and-half months of raging protests, at least one school has been torched in each of ten districts in Kashmir. In the last five days alone, five schools have been torched, taking the total to 19. Out of these, 17 were government-run schools while two were privately owned properties. The report further states that of the 19 school buildings, at least seven were completely burnt to the ground. The most recent incident took place over Monday and Tuesday when three schools were gutted to fire in 24 hours across Kashmir: the Government Middle School in Sadrukote Bala of Bandipora district, the government school in the Noorbagh area of Srinagar and the Government Higher Secondary School at Aishmuqam in Anantnag district.

However, surprisingly, no arrests have been made in connection with these incidents so far. The crime, according to a report in Kashmir Lifeare attributed to “unknown miscreants,” a label that Hurriyat Conference has decried. According to the Kashmiri news website, the separatist leaders have asked the people to stay vigilant about such incidents and alleged that the incidents were carried out to discredit the “freedom movement” as “violence and anarchy”. The Hurriyat Conference in its statement also alleged that the incidents were carried out under the watch of police and were a part of a conspiracy.

The security forces, on the other hand, have said that the incident is suspected to be the handiwork of miscreants, adding that the security patrol around school buildings has been increased to ensure that such incidents are not repeated.

Meanwhile, the education of over 5000 students in the Valley has been seriously jeopardised as schools remain shut for close to four months now. Whether it is the raging violence, following Wani’s death, or the curfew imposed by Indian forces, or the separatist-sponsored strike, children are forced to suspend their studies and stay indoors. Education in the valley is at an absolute standstill. According to a report in Patrikathe Director of Eductaion in Jammu and Kashmir said that the security around schools has been beefed up and the Directorate of Education has already sought a report. Some Education inspectors also told Patrika that mostly students from the underprivileged section of the society studied in the government schools, which are targeted in a surprisingly high ratio. The reconstruction and renovation may take many years, the Education department officials added.

This shows that unrest and violence in the Valley has affected young minds the most, as thousand of young protesters took part in the protests while hundreds of them have either been arrested or have sustained injuries in clashes with security forces.

Meanwhile, the state government has announced that annual board examinations will be held next month, even though the schools have remained closed since July. According to Kashmir Monitor, students have protested against the decision and are insisting that the exams are postponed. The students say that more than 50% of their syllabus remains uncovered as their studies suffered due to the situation in the Valley. Although the government has promised to reduce the syllabus in exams and offer more choices in the paper, the students remain distressed as some of the schools were yet to formally begin classes for some of the subjects when the unrest broke out.

With inputs from PTI

CBSE schools not reducing weight of bags, State tells HC

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The State Government on Wednesday informed the Bombay High Court that the institutions affiliated to the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) were not implementing the Government Resolution (GR) that suggested ways to reduce weight of school bags.Appearing for the state, Government Pleader Abhay Patki said: “Schools under the CBSE board have turned a blind eye to the resolution. Most of the times, they refer to the central board directions, indicating that they are following a certain curriculum in which there can be no changes.”A division bench of Justice V M Kanade and Justice Swapna Joshi said: “Take action against the school management and soon, everyone will fall in line.” The court also said that the time had come for the parents and teachers to understand the ill effects of heavy bags on children’s health. It, thus, asked the government to create awareness regarding the issue.”These days, couples generally have one child and education of the child remains the main focus. Parents put the kids in different classes, making them carry heavy bags. Children should be encouraged towards sports and other extra-curricular activities,” said Justice Kanade.The Court also asked the Government to take steps to ensure that its resolution, aimed to reducing weight of school bags, is properly implemented and measures, including having fewer school hours, are implemented.The observations were made during the hearing of a public interest litigation (PIL), filed by activist Swati Patil, claiming that the State Government was not taking steps to reduce the weight of school bags. The petitioner relied on a World Health Organisation (WHO) report, which claimed that children suffered various orthopaedic and other ailments because of the heavy school bags.As per recommendations mentioned in the GR, schools have been directed to take various steps, including using tablets, using one textbook for allied subjects, and providing lockers to children to keep their books, etc.The resolution was issued after a Government-appointed committee noted that the school bags were so heavy that 60 per cent of the students below the age of 10 were suffering from orthopaedic and stress-induced ailments.

New Zealand assures support for India’s UNSC, NSG membership appeal

New Delhi: Acknowledging the importance of India joining the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group (NSG), New Zealand on Wednesday affirmed its constructive contribution towards New Delhi’s quest for the membership of the elite club.

New Zealand PM John Key arrived in India on . PTI

New Zealand PM John Key arrived in India on 25 October. PTI

Addressing a joint press conference in New Delhi with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, New Zealand Prime Minister John Key also assured of his country’s continued support to India’s bid to become a member of the reformed UN Security Council.

“I and Prime Minister Modi had a conversation about India’s application to become a member of the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group (NSG). I acknowledged the importance of India joining the NSG.

“I also stated that New Zealand will continue to contribute constructively to the process currently underway in the NSG to consider India’s membership. New Zealand is committed to working with the NSG members to reach a decision and as soon as possible,” said Key.

The visiting Prime Minister further said: “I reiterated to Prime Minister Modi about New Zealand’s consistent support for India to become a member of the reformed UN Security Council, including if this means expansion of the UNSC,” said Key, adding that both leaders underlined their strong interest in advancing nuclear disarmament and nuclear nonproliferation.

Speaking on mutually beneficial ties with India, Key said both countries agreed on working closely in areas such as “food safety, cyber security, education and customs”.

“We also agreed for close coordination on a range of issues, including international terrorism,” said Key.

Observing that there is potential for the bilateral trade to grow, Key said both leaders are committed towards creating business environment in the respective countries conducive to creating jobs and prosperity for the people.

“High quality trade agreements will encourage that and Prime Minister Modi and I agreed to work towards that goal thorough our bilateral free trade agreement negotiations and regional comprehensive economic partnership talks,” added Key.

IITs to increase total student intake by 5 percent from next academic session

There will be a five percent increase in the number of students admitted to the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) from the next academic session.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

According to The Times of India, all 23 IITs in the country will increase their total student intake by five percent as other premier engineering and tech schools have also decided to increase their foreign student intake by up to 10 percent of the revised figure.

The PTI had earlier reported that the government is set to ease the regulatory norms to make it easier for foreign faculty to be appointed in the IITs.

According to official sources, the HRD ministry had put forward a proposal to the Ministry of External Affairs and the Home Ministry to ensure the norms related to allowing foreign faculty are made easier.

“The HRD ministry has proposed that norms related to allowing qualified foreign faculty to teach in the IITs be eased. Both MEA and MHA have been positive in this regard during the consultations,” a source had said.

It had also been learnt that apart from the faculty coming from Prior Requirement Countries, the clearance norms for others teaching in India could be eased.

Sources had said there is a move to relax work visa regime by bringing down the threshold annual salary to Rs 9.1 lakh per annum from the current limit of Rs 16.7 lakhs (USD 25,000).

With inputs from PTI 

Gujarat: Chopper ferrying President Mukherjee’s entourage makes emergency landing

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Members of President Pranab Mukherjee’s entourage, including Leader of Opposition in Gujarat Assembly Shankersinh Vaghela, on Sunday escaped unhurt when the helicopter ferrying them made an emergency landing at Vadodra after developing a technical problem.The incident was reported at about 4:00 PM after the three Mi-17 choppers took off from Ankleshwar to Ahmedabad after the President inaugurated a super-speciality hospital there.However, only the chopper carrying the President and another one landed here. Officials said the third chopper in the fleet developed a technical glitch mid-air and it made an emergency landing at Vadodara, about 90 kms from Ankleshwar. Vaghela and other members of the Presidential entourage were onboard the helicopter.”All the occupants of the chopper that made an emergency landing in Vadodara are safe. They will take a replacement chopper to reach Ahmedabad,” a senior official said. The last event of the day where the President was supposed to meet the students of ‘Bapu Gujarat Knowledge Village and Samarpan Education and Research Campus’ was also “rescheduled” and timed for an hour later due to this development.The President is on a two-day tour to Gujarat. He had arrived in Gandhinagar yesterday.

RSS demands removal of English as medium of instruction, ahead of new education policy formulation

The RSS education wing, on Friday, demanded that the use of English language as the medium of instruction should be eliminated and emphasis instead should be on the mother tongue, from the HRD ministry, ahead of the constitution of the new education policy, as reported by The Indian Express.

File photo of Prakash Javadekar. ReutersFile photo of Prakash Javadekar. Reuters

File photo of Prakash Javadekar. Reuters

The RSS-affiliated Shiksha Sanskriti Utthan Nyas (SSUN) made a number of suggestions such as that foreign languages be removed completely from the curriculum — even as an alternative; that all research should be connected to “national requirements” and those projects that do not fulfill this criteria should be taken off UGC scholarships, and that references that insult Indian culture and offer incorrect explanations should also be removed, says The Indian Express.

According to India TV, the RSS wing has also recommended that the ministry must attempt to gradually remove English at all levels of education, both in private and government schools, colleges and universities, in a meeting between Atul Kothari, leader of the SSUN and HRD minister Prakash Javadekar. Allegedly the government was asked to “immediately provide facilities to introduce education in Indian languages in English-medium institutions like IIT, IIM and NIT”, by the SSUN. An email response by the ministry on 14 October read that his list of recommendations is noted and shall be discussed.

The Deccan Chronicle alleges that the RSS affiliate has even asked for legal action against schools that do not let students speak in their mother tongue, as many schools have existing punishment systems, including remarks and fines, for students speaking in their native tongue. Kothari was reported as saying that many of his suggestions were appreciated.

‘Saffronisation of education’ has been a popular phrase associated with Dinanath Batra, another RSS veteran of Shiksha Bachao Andolan, and leader of the SSUN. Times Of India reports that Batra and the Shiksha Bachao Andolan have been heading a movement to change UPA era textbooks. According to The Indian Express article, the Haryana government was looking to introduce six of his books in the state syllabus last year, all of which preached moral Indian values and culture.

However, Javadekar had earlier announced the government role must be of a facilitator and not a controller, for which it proposes to give more autonomy to premier institutions of higher learning, based on their performance during a review meeting, that he chaired, with directors of five Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research located at Pune, Kolkata, Mohali, Bhopal and Thiruvananthapuram and the Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru in September, accordimg to an IANS report.

A Livemint report claims that the new education policy is aimed at encouraging innovation over rote learning, making education both the emancipator as well as the enabler. The drafting process is open to suggestions by district level and block-level consultation to make the policy more relevant and inclusive. Where gross enrollment was the earlier focus in schemes like Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, Right to Education and National Literacy Mission, the poor quality of education is the problem tackled by the new policy. Several national-level surveys, third party assessments and consultation is directed to making it a participatory process, to avoid further high-handedness in the education sector.

An article in the Asian Age says that Javadekar hopes to evoke a consensus on a range of issues including the no-detention policy till class 8 and provisional Class 10 Board exams and so on. A detailed discussion is due to take place on 25 October between the HRD minister and the education ministers at the Central Advisory Board of Education.

With inputs from IANS

NHRC issues notice to Odisha government after hospital blaze

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has expressed shock on how the state authorities allow hospitals to function without proper fire safety clearance. Following the death of 22 persons in Odisha on October 17 at SUM Hospital and Medical College in Bhubaneshwar, NHRC has issued a notice to the state government.The fire occurred due to a suspected short circuit. 40 patients in critical condition have been admitted to different hospitals. Reportedly, the hospital in question came under the scanner as early as 2013, for not adhering to the safety measures, but the hospital authorities ignored it. Shockingly, in Odisha, out of 568 hospitals, only 3 have clearance from the department of fire safety.The Commission has observed that callous attitude and lapses of the authorities, if any, amount to violation of right to life of the patients. Accordingly, it has issued a notice to the Government of Odisha through its Chief Secretary, calling for a report in the matter within six weeks including the relief and rehabilitation granted to the next of kin of the deceased and the injured. He has also been asked to inform about the steps or precautions taken or proposed to be taken by the state government to prevent recurrence of such mishaps.The fire reportedly started in the Operation Theatre of the Dialysis Ward and spread to ICU and nearby wards. The State Government has ordered a probe by the Director, Medical Education and Training, and has also declared free treatment to all injured persons.

Odisha fire: Sum hospital violates safety norms, action against owner likely

Bhubaneswar: The owner of the Odisha hospital where 20 people died in a tragic fire on Monday, might be arrested for negligence and blatant violation of fire safety norms in the premises, an official said on Wednesday.

Director of Medical Education and Training Prakash Chandra Mohapatra hinted that the owner of the Institute of Medical Sciences and SUM Hospitals could be arrested.

“The police is taking action against the hospital authorities. We have filed FIR against the hospital management. The owner also comes under the management. Police may take action against him,” said Mohapatra.

According to a note from the Director, Medical Education and Training (DMET), out of the 568 fully operational private hospitals and nursing homes in the state, only three corporate hospitals — in Bhubaneswar, Cuttack and Puri — have fire safety certificates.

The name of SUM hospital did not figure in the list at all. It has no fire safety certificate, the note showed.

Representational image. PTIRepresentational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

The hospital also did not adhere to the 2013 audit on fire safety measures. It did not obtain any valid fire safety certificate, said a senior fire service official.

The SUM Hospitals neither had a 25,000 litre water tank nor a functional sprinkler system that could have been used to fight a fire on the premises.

“The fire detection system did not function as it was not integrated properly. As such, there were no alarms warning the people of the situation,” said the fire department in an FIR lodged by it.

It further said that there was no provision for an external fire escape staircase thereby hindering evacuation. Patients were evacuated through windows after breaking the glass panes.

The existing fire protection system available in the building — fire hydrant system — did not function during fire fighting and there was no water source available within the hospital premises.

The commissionerate police have arrested four persons so far in connection with the fire tragedy.

Medical Superintendent Pusparaj Samantasinghar, former Executive Engineer Amulya Kumar Sahu (electrical maintenance), Fire Safety Officer Santosh Das and retired Junior Engineer Malay Kumar Sahu (electrical maintenance) were arrested on Tuesday.

Slumscapes: How the world’s five biggest slums are shaping their futures | Reuters

By Paola Totaro

LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – As the United Nations prepares a 20-year plan to cope with the challenges of booming urbanization, residents of the world’s five biggest slums are battling to carve out a place in the cities of the future.Home to more than 900 million people worldwide – or nearly one in every seven people – the U.N. says slums are emerging spontaneously as a “dominant and distinct type of settlement” in the 21st century.Today one quarter of the world’s city dwellers live in slums – and they are there to stay. The U.N.’s 193 member states are set to adopt the first detailed road map to guide the growth of cities, towns and informal settlements, ensure they are sustainable, do not destroy the environment and protect the rights of the vulnerable.Held once every 20 years, the U.N.’s Habitat III conference comes at a time when, for the first time in history, more people live in cities than rural areas.In 2014, 54 percent of the global population lived in cities but by 2050, this is expected to rise to 66 percent.”We live in the urban century … when planned, built, and governed well, cities can be massive agents of positive change,” UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a recent statement.”They can be catalysts for inclusion and powerhouses of equitable economic growth. They can help us protect the environment and limit climate change. That is why we need a new vision for urbanization.”The U.N.’s policy document, titled the New Urban Agenda, says there has been “significant” improvement in the quality of life for millions of city residents over the past two decades, but the pressures of population growth and rural-to-city migration are increasing dramatically.Billy Cobbett, director of the Cities Alliance partnership for poverty reduction and promoting sustainable cities, said urban growth in many parts of the world, particularly Africa, is not driven by rural migration alone but by population growth.The U.N. plan stresses that providing transport, sanitation, hospitals and schools is imperative but city strategies must also “go beyond” physical improvements to integrate slums into the social, economic, cultural, and political life of cities.Experts say this policy represents a significant shift in thinking among city planners and authorities who have historically seen bulldozers as the answer to slum settlements.High-density communities geared to pedestrians along with properties that mix business with housing can offer lessons for management of future growth, they say.Today, unchecked population growth and migration in many world cities – from Kenya to Mexico to India – mean slums and the informal economies and communities created around them must increasingly be seen as an important part of the wider city.SECURITY FIRST
The U.N. roadmap highlights that a critical impediment to upgrading informal settlements and sustainable redevelopment is the lack of tenure or ownership of land or property.In 2003, 924 million city dwellers were estimated to be without title to their homes or land and this number, according to the United Nations, is expected to have grown “exponentially”.This is a particularly pressing problem in Africa where more than half the urban population – or 62 percent of people – live in shanty towns and 90 percent of rural land is undocumented.Living without secure tenure means living under constant threat of eviction. Slum dwellers who have no way of proving ownership of assets also have no access to credit, further eroding any motivation to improve homes and neighbourhoods.For governments, particularly in poorer countries, slum areas without title are a particularly vexed problem as the great majority are not mapped, little is known about demographics or spatial use, and the way residents have settled is often so dense that housing and services are hard to fit in.The lack of basic information also means they cannot use the most commonly used official land registration systems.ROADS BATTLE IN KENYA
Nairobi’s vast Kibera settlement – coming from the Nubian for forest or jungle – is described as Africa’s largest slum and comprises more than a dozen villages from Soweto East to Kianda.A mix of ethnic groups make their home there although nobody knows exact numbers. According to the last Kenyan census, the population was 170,070 in 2009 but other sources, including the UN, estimate the settlement is now home to anywhere between 400,000 and one million people. Much of Kibera’s employment comes from the nearby industrial area of Nairobi but an estimated half of Kibera’s residents are jobless, surviving on less than $1 a day.Only 27 percent of Kibera’s 50,000 students attend government schools, with most attending informal institutions set up by residents and churches, according to the charity Map Kibera. Violence, alcohol and drugs are rife and clean water scarce.Kibera’s residents also struggle with no garbage services, free flowing sewage and the slum became infamous globally for the so–called ‘flying toilets’ – throw away plastic bags used by residents forced to relieve themselves outdoors.Yet amidst the squalor there are many residents like Peter Nyagasera and his family who have worked tirelessly to improve their neighbourhood.Nyagasera and his wife Sarah Oisebe up part of a former dump site in Kibera to create a playground for the resident-run school and a children’s centre for orphans. For these children, he says, school is the only place they receive a hot meal each day.But despite all their hard work, the community has been forced to mount a court challenge to stop construction of a road planned to cut through the area and demolish the school – and this community is not alone.A second group of residents from the marginalised Nubian group are also without formal titles and fighting for ownership to protect their homes, many recently marked with red crosses for demolition to make way for the highway.Their case will be heard in Kenya’s High Court in November but residents are despondent.”Children will suffer,” said Nyagasera.

One of the toughest and most vulnerable aspects of life in the slums is the battle to find regular work. Cities are job hubs and proximity to employment has long been a major driver of slum development and expansion.Globally, according to the International Labour Organization, 200 million people in slums were without jobs in 2013 while UNESCO estimates that more than a quarter of the young, urban poor earn little more than $1.25 a day.Despite this, in many developing economies, the engine room of job creation is found in the heart of informal economies like those in the favelas of Rio or the bustling hives of activity in big Indian cities like Mumbai.Author Robert Neuwirth spent four years researching his book, ‘Shadow Cities’, which looked at informal economies in global shanty towns. He believes these unlicensed economic networks are vastly under appreciated in scope and power and estimates they account for some 1.8 billion jobs globally.”It’s a huge number and if it were all together in a single political system, this economic system would be worth $10 trillion a year. That would make it the second largest economy in the world,” he said.In Mumbai, where an estimated one million people live in the bustling Dharavi slum, resident-owned small businesses – from leather workers and potters to recycling networks – have created an informal economy with annual turnover of about $1 billion.Residents live and work in the same place and are now campaigning actively to ensure that any redevelopment of their homes or construction of new housing takes into account the need for home-based ground floor workspaces.”People think of slums as places of static despair as depicted in films such as ‘Slumdog Millionaire’,” said Sanjeev Sanyal, an economist and writer, referring to the Academy Award-winning movie that exposed the gritty underbelly of Dharavi.”If one looks past the open drains and plastic sheets, one will see that slums are ecosystems buzzing with activity… Creating neat low-income housing estates will not work unless they allow for many of the messy economic and social activities that thrive in slums,” he said.Rahul Srivastava, a founder of Mumbai’s Institute of Urbanology, said the biggest impediment to upgrading informal settlements is their “illegitimate” status due to the absence of title.Settlements that are home to fifth-generation migrants cannot be classed as “informal”, he says, and it is high time the narrow perception of these neighbourhoods is changed.DYING FOR A PEE
In Cape Town, the shanty towns of Khayelitsha stretch for miles, a grim brown sea of ramshackle wood and iron shacks that confront visitors arriving at the airport but are out of view of the city’s glass towers or the leafy suburbs on nearby hills.Khayelitsha’s population, according to the 2011 Census, is 99 percent black.Jean Comaroff, a Harvard professor of anthropology and African Studies, said despite “valiant efforts” from city authorities and activists in recent years, Cape Town itself still offers little room for its slum residents beyond “servitude” – work as domestics or in the service industries.

“It is poised on a knife edge and the differences between the beauty of the city itself and what you see on the Cape flats is the starkest you will ever see in the world.” she said.In Cape Town, city authorities are not only struggling with providing housing and sanitation for a burgeoning population but face the task of trying to reverse the apartheid era engineering that built the spatial segregations that still exist today.Experts say that not only is there not enough new affordable housing but what has been built remains distant from employment, forcing long commutes for those who are lucky enough to work.Inside, however, residents are struggling – and at times losing their lives – due the absence of the most basic service – toilets.According to the Social Justice Coalition’s Axolile Notywala, using a toilet can be one of the most dangerous activities for residents and a major problem for women and children.A Commission of Inquiry into Policing in the shanty towns in 2012 found that 12,000 households have no access to toilets and the link between violence, particularly against women and children, and the need to walk long distances at night was highlighted by researchers and activists.A mathematical model built by Yale University researchers last year concluded that doubling the number of toilets to 11,300 in Khayelitsha would reduce sexual assaults by a third.”Higher toilet installation and maintenance costs would be more than offset by lower sexual assault costs,” lead researcher Gregg Gonsalves told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.DIY SERVICES
Across the world in Pakistan, Orangi Town in the port city of Karachi is believed home to around 2.4 million people although nobody knows exactly as the last census was in 1998.Widely cited as Asia’s largest slum, it sprawls over 8,000 acres – the equivalent of about 4,500 Wembley football pitches.Known locally as “katchi abadis”, the first informal settlements emerged in the wake of the Indo-Pakistani war of 1947, which led to a huge influx of refugees. Unable to cope with the numbers – by 1950 the population had increased to 1 million from 400,000 – the government issued refugees “slips” giving them permission to settle on any vacant land.The settlement’s population really exploded in the early 1970s when thousands of people migrated from East Pakistan after the 1971 war of independence, which led to the establishment of the Republic of Bangladesh.Since then, land has also been traded informally, usually through a middleman who subdivided plots of both government and private land and sold them to the poor.Unlike many other slums worldwide the lack of services – not housing – is the major problem.Communities have built two and three-room houses out of concrete blocks manufactured locally, say activists. Each house is home to between eight and 10 people and an informal economy of micro businesses has emerged as people created livelihoods.In the early 1980s, however, some residents within the enormous slum decided they’d had enough of waiting for governments unwilling or unable to fund sanitation and so embarked on building a sewerage project on a “self-help” basis.

Now globally renowned, the Orangi Pilot Project (OPP) has helped residents design, fund and build their own sewerage systems and pipelines and, since 1980, has brought latrines to more than 108,000 households in a project continuing today.To date, say OPP statistics, 96 percent of the settlement’s 112,562 households have latrines with residents footing the bill of 132,026,807 Pakistani rupees ($1.26 million) – all DIY.”In fact, people in the town now consider the streets as part of their homes because they have invested in them and that’s why they maintain and clean the sewers too,” said OPP’s director, Saleem Aleemuddin. BOTTOM UP DEVELOPMENT
Jose Castillo, an urban planner and architect in Mexico City, says that Ciudad Neza, home to 1.2 million people, should serve as a model for other blighted urban areas and slums.Short for Nezahualcóyotl, Neza sits on the bed of Lake Texcoco which was slowly drained in a bid to combat devastating flooding over a century and more.However the dry land ended up being too salty for farming and was slowly picked up by developers who laid out a grid of streets and sold off boxy parcels, most without proper titles.The settlement really grew in a burst of urban migration in the mid-20th century when new arrivals to Neza set up shacks of wood and cardboard, living without electricity, a sewage system or running water, schools or paved roads. Old timers remember in the early days they’d be lucky if a bus came every two hours.Victoria Gomez Calderon, 82, moved to Neza from eastern Mexico as a young woman, and remembers clearly the putrid remains of the lake just a half block from her tiny home.”It was a pure wasteland,” she said.In the early 1970s, residents banded together to demand services and a government programme to formalize ownership and provide land titles.Neza’s reputation as the world’s largest slum, coined when its population was combined with two other blighted areas decades ago, no longer applies, they said.Today, despite its severe problems from continuing poor access to transport and schools to high crime rates, Neza’s development holds lessons in growth and resilience for others.Planner Castillo says Neza is teeming with micro entrepreneurs working from home or sharing spaces in what would be called co-working in trendier places.”My argument is let’s stop asking what urban planning can do to fix the city and let’s focus on understanding where we could also learn from those processes,” he said.”There’s a strong sense of pride in place. It’s a community based on the notion that jointly these people transformed this territory.”Priscilla Connolly Dietrichsen, a professor of urban sociology at the Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana in Mexico City, agrees.”The story isn’t, ‘Oh dear, dear, what a terrible slum.’ In a way, it’s a success story, in spite of the present problems,” she said.SLUMS ARE CITIES
The 23-page draft document up for adoption at Habitat III in Quito is the result of months of closed-door negotiations, held in several nations, including Indonesia and the United States.Some critics are disappointed the policy framework contains no tangible targets and will be non-binding on member states.”It’s easy for governments to sign something that is not enforceable,” said Michael Cohen, a former senior urban affairs official with the World Bank, who has advised U.N. Habitat.”It doesn’t have much bite. It talks a lot about commitments but has no dates, places or numbers.”Supporters, however, argue the New Urban Agenda will not only focus attention on the urgent need for holistic planning of cities but also work to fundamentally change the way urban growth is debated and discussed both nationally and globally.Important drivers of planned growth are a well-oiled system of land ownership, title and tenure which then paves the way for governments to collect revenue to pay for new services.Equally important is the need for concerted planning approaches so new hospitals, bus services, and schools are placed where they are needed with thought given to future growth and employment opportunities.There has, however, also been some criticism of the U.N.’s shift from a traditionally rural focus to a city driven, urban one and its failure to link the New Urban Agenda to the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals and climate change benchmarks.Shivani Chaudry, executive director of the Housing and Land Rights Network in India, said the bias away from rural interests in the New Urban Agenda will leave many people behind.She said many countries had argued forcefully for the adoption of goals and targets, for example a reduction in numbers of the homeless, increases in housing for the poor or a drop in forced evictions, but nothing was agreed.”Rural populations have not been adequately represented: farmers, forest dwellers, indigenous and coastal communities – all suffer the consequences of uncontrolled urbanization,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.”There is so much exploitation of these people and our fear is that so many have been left out.” (Reporting by Paola Totaro, Editing by Belinda Goldsmith; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, property rights and climate change. Visit

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Amid tension, Pakistan delegation pulls out from SAARC Sufi festival

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In the wake of the recent tension between India and Pakistan, a Pakistani delegation which was scheduled to attend the SAARC Sufi festival has pulled out from the three-day event beginning in Jaipur this Friday.The delegation comprising authors, writers, poets and Sufis will not be attending the festival to be held from October 14-16 at the Diggi palace.”The delegation members have cancelled their participation to the event. The reason for most of them is the recent tension between the two countries following which the schedule of the event has been revised accordingly,” Ram Pratap Diggi, the local associate of the organisers, said.The event is being organised by SAARC Writers and Literature (FOSWAL). “The festival will held on scheduled dates but without the Pakistani delegation,” he said.Sources said it was feared that their presence may invite protests and demonstrations, so they preferred to cancel their visit to India.Topics like Sufism and Its Inter Religious Links, Sufi-Bhakti Harmony, Promoting Sufi Tenets for World Peace, Teachings of Sufism and Application in Today’s Life, Role of Education in Developing Human Values for Harmony, Dance and Sufism, Women in Sufism, Music and Spirituality, Poetry in Sufism will be discussed by panelists in the festival.Last month, following threats by Hindu outfits, Mayo College, Ajmer had called off an event under an exchange programme in which a delegation from Pakistan was scheduled to attend from October 2-5.

HRD to take NITI Aayog’s approval before finalising new education policy

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Human Resource Development (HRD) Minister, Prakash Javadekar told DNA, that the ministry is going to take approval from Niti Aayog, before bringing out the final draft of the new education policy. Javadekar added that he will be holding a workshop with all the Members of Parliament cutting across party lines. “We will hold a workshop of all the MPs on November 10 to discuss education related issues and suggestions received. I welcome everyone who has an expertise in the field,” said Javadekar.The idea of holding a workshop with the MPs was originally suggested by Jairam Ramesh during the last discussion on Education Policy, which lasted for about three hours. It was suggested that since everyone has a lot to contribute in the issue, the duration of discussion should be longer. The ministry is also in touch with Niti Aayog for discussions on the policy. “We are in touch with Niti Aayog and will take a final decision on the education policy only after analysing all the aspects,” Javadekar added.The new education policy,which is aimed at bringing changes in the structure of education in the country from primary to higher education was initiated in the tenure of the previous HRD Minister, Smriti Irani. It however, came under controversy after a number of suggestions made by RSS’s education unit were found to be regressive by educationists. Javadekar, after assuming the charge of education minister started a discussion on the policy once again. The last date of submitting the suggestions was September 30.

India needs to hire 30 lakh primary teachers by 2030 to ensure every child in school: UN report

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>India needs to recruit at least three million primary teachers and over eight million secondary teachers in next 14 years to ensure that every child is in school and learning well, says a UN report. India accounts for ¾ of the entire southern Asia target.The UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) on World Teachers’ Day (5 October) has released a paper setting out the first-ever estimates of how many more teachers are needed to meet Sustainable Development Goals 4 (SDG 4). The international education community has pledged to achieve universal primary and secondary education by 2030 as part of SDG 4.However, about 263 million children and youth are out of school, according to recent UIS data. This includes 25 million children of primary school age who will probably never set foot in a classroom, while just 14% of youth complete upper secondary education in low-income countries.The report says the world has just 14 years to recruit a total of 69 million teachers: 24.4 million primary teachers, and almost twice as many – 44.4 million – secondary school teachers to achieve the education targets set by the United Nations.While Sub-Sahara region accounts for largest scarcity of the teachers with the need of over 17 million more teachers including primary and secondary both, the Southern Asia comes next which needs to recruit a total of 15 million.Global progress could depend on, first, whether there even is a teacher, or a classroom in which to teach. Second, on whether that teacher walks into the classroom with the training, resources and support that they need to do their job. And third, they have manageable number of children or 60, 70 or even more pupils.“Over 25 million children of primary-school age will probably never set foot in a classroom. Just 14% of youth complete upper secondary education in low-income countries,” says the report.”We already know that better pay will attract the best graduates into the profession and give them an incentive to stay. A 10 per cent increase in teacher’s pay tends to result in a five to ten per cent increase in pupil performance. Given the stretched finances of developing world governments, the international community has a responsibility to help fund this – which is why it is such a disgrace that international education aid has been in decline since 2010,” says Vikas Pota, CEO of the Varkey Foundation who co-authored a report “Closing the teacher gap, almost 69 million needed”, along with Silvia Montoya, Director of the UNESCO Institute of Statistics.Highlights of the report*War in Syria and Iraq has destroyed large parts of the education systems and has had a knock-on effect on neighbouring countries trying to cope with an influx of refugees. Referring to the Syrian Ministry of Education, the report states the number of teachers within Syria almost halved – falling by 46% — between 2012 and 2016.* Sub-Sahara region has the fastest growing school-age population but its teacher gap is by far the largest, as it will need to recruit a total of 17 million primary and secondary teachers by 2030. More than 70% of the region’s countries already face acute shortages of primary school teachers, rising to 90% for secondary education. *Southern Asia has the second-largest teacher gap, which explains the overcrowded classrooms, particularly at secondary level. The average pupil-teacher ratio stands at 34:1 at primary level and 29:1 (2014 estimates) at secondary level – far higher than the global average of 18:1. Southern Asia needs another 15 million teachers by 2030, the vast majority (11 million) at secondary level.

CBSE to discontinue provision of re-evaluation of answer sheets from 2017

New Delhi: The Central Board of Secondary Education has decided to discontinue the provision of re-evaluation of answer sheets from 2017.

However, officials said that some system will still be in place for redressal of genuine cases.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

Senior CBSE officials told mediapersons in Delhi that since 2014, re-evaluation of answer sheets was done in around 10 subjects for class XII examinations.

However, the actual number of students who applied for re-evaluation was only around 1.8 percent and the number of beneficiaries even less, a senior official said.

“Keeping these in mind, the CBSE has decided to do away with the system of re-evaluation,” the official said.

CBSE chairperson RK Chaturvedi said the governing body of the board has given its assent to the decision of doing away with re-evaluation.

Chaturvedi also said the CBSE has formed two committees – one to look at existing by-laws and another to look at the system of examinations.

He said there are often reports of violation against schools and there is a view that CBSE needs more teeth to enforce the by-laws.

Giving an instance, officials said complaints were received that schools sometimes gave transfer certificates to students’ mid-session which caused them difficulties.

CBSE officials also said they are planning to hold online examinations for the next Central Teachers Eligibility Test (CTET).

They said they are working on a number of other digital initiatives like ensuring that school exam certificates of applicants to various courses can be checked by institutions online.

They also added that soon students will be able to get digital copies of their certificates.

They added that records of various schools are also being digitised and they have been asked to put data related to them on their websites.

CBSE officials said they are also in the process of mapping the educational audio-visual content available online, which can be used by school students.

Giving more details, CBSE officials said they were also working on apps which would guide students appearing in exams to their centres.

They also said there have been some incidents of fake calls being made in the name of CBSE officials to general public.

Some of these matters, they said, have been reported to the police and an advisory issued to the general public.

WATCH: Mumbai police inspector switches jobs with schoolgirl ahead of World Teachers’ Day

The Mumbai Police has been helping citizens get around the city through its witty and amusing tweets. But this time they have won the hearts of Mumbaikars by collaborating with the Akanksha Foundation for a cause. The Mumbai Police joined forces with the non-profit organization to help a young schoolgirl switch places with the senior inspector of NM Joshi Police Station.

The idea behind the Job Switch initiative is to encourage people to come and teach in the classrooms of the foundation. The Akanksha Foundation provides high-quality education to kids from low-income communities and relies on help from volunteers to help transform the lives of these children.

This time on the job switch, Ria swapped places with Senior Inspector Ahmed Pathan. The video shows how Ria adorably goes through the works of an inspector and how Pathan familiarises himself with the children, teaching them a poem while on his teaching gig. Pathan reveals that getting the role of a teacher was very satisfying and that other professionals can also do their bit to help these underprivileged children.

Other participants of the Job Switch initiative include journalist Shereen Bhan, fitness guru Mickey Mehta and many others.

If you wish to make a difference and help the children, you can volunteer and teach for The Akanksha Foundation.

Visit for more details.

ICSE, CBSE pupils ahead of state board students: NAS report highlights poor state of schools

The recently announced NAS (National Assessment Survey) 2015 refers to big gap in average learning levels of students from School Boards of various states, compared to the results available from students going through the CBSE and ICSE routes. This will come as no surprise to anyone familiar with the distressing realities in the Indian school system. Note that the vast majority of children go through the state school board system and recent data is reflects the poor levels of education in the country.

The survey results corroborate the picture described in June 2016 by the Ministry of HRD sponsored Committee to revise the National Education Policy, portraying the ground conditions in school education in India in depressing detail. It is not just that levels of education and learnings are low, there is also strong evidence that these are sharply coming down in recent years. Indeed the only positive feature over the past decades has been the steady rise in literacy and basic education coverage, particularly strengthened by the RTE in the last decade. The bad news is that quality is abysmal and falling; there are huge questions about inclusivity, and lack of adequate opportunity for students coming from economically and socially deprived classes. Sharp improvement in education standards is now urgently imperative, and should be taken up as a national priority.

A school in Delhi. Representational image. ReutersA school in Delhi. Representational image. Reuters

A school in Delhi. Representational image. Reuters

There are many inter-related, as well as unrelated factors which have contributed to the growing disparity in learning levels in school boards, in general across the country, compared to CBSE and ICSE. To start with, the school education system is riddled with political considerations as the prime mover of decision making, rather than issues related to raising academic standards across the board. While the RTE has addressed the question of school infrastructure, even though only partially and inadequately, implementation levels of the current law of the land is highly unsatisfactory. Recruitment, transfers and postings of teachers are prime consideration issues by educational administrators, closely involved with politicians from the state to the village level. The critical importance of teacher-training and teacher-preparation has not been recognized in many states. There is imperative need to invert the pyramid, and bring sharp focus on the primacy of the teacher, and above all the student, in the educational equation. There seems to be no recognition of this obvious need, failing which it is impossible to move forward.

The reason for inferior learning levels in science, arithmetic and English of most rural and students from economic depressed classes is not difficult to comprehend. In general, the urban student, who frequently comes from the middle class, supplements his learning through private tuitions, as well as from support from the home – these benefits are not available to a vast majority of rural and poorer students, where over-60 percent exist at subsistence levels. Despite school education being free, it is a commentary on the quality of education provided by school boards, that families who can hardly afford it prefer private schools for their children, at large economic cost.

There is no systematic awareness or recognition that the government school standards need to be drastically improved. In relation to science teaching, any survey will establish that in nearly every rural school which even nominally has a laboratory, one will find that it is usually closed, or unused, in disrepair, almost invariably with no electric connection or supply of chemicals and fuels for operations – this is a nationwide phenomenon. With regard to standards in arithmetic and mathematics, the present pedagogy and course material is primarily based on rote and memory system – which does not encourage the students to think; the need to ​review and upgrade​ pedagogy and syllabus has been repeatedly stressed and recommended, with no action on the ground.

The gap in learning of English is easily understood when one realises that in most board schools, English is taught as a language only from Class III or onwards – many private schools, even in rural areas, teach English as a subject from Class I.

RTE legally mandates education from age six. Pre-schooling is hardly prevalent in many parts of India, particularly in rural areas. The Anganwadis rightly stress health and malnutrition, but there is little attention to education. The child has rapid brain-growth between ages of 3 to 4 – this is the age that he or she should be exposed to basic arithmetic and language training. Pre-school is more common in many urban areas – witness the enormous competition for admission of affluent children to high quality metropolitan schools. It is now time that the Right to Education should be legally extended to the 4-5 age group.

These briefly summarise some very large gaps in the system, and issues which need attention. For most students who do not need to pursue higher studies, there is a need to review the examination systems at Class X and Class XII, differentiate the stream which one intends to proceed for higher education, and to provide lower assessment levels for those who want to go to vocational and self-employment streams. Technology needs to be inducted in multiple ways, in an imaginative, practical and sensible manner. The teacher and student, along with the Principal and the school have to be the top-most focus for consideration in policy making. Many states are already making significant improvements; however the Hindi belt yet to wake up in this regard.

The NAS Report is another reminder that Indian school education is in shambles. Major policy changes are imperative. Short-term palliative measures are no longer adequate. There is no evidence yet that policy makers comprehend the depth and extent of the crisis

Singapore PM Lee Hsien Loong to kickstart five-day India trip on Monday

Singapore: Prime Minister of Singapore Lee Hsien Loong will arrive in India on Monday on a five-day visit aimed at deepening bilateral ties in a range of areas including trade and investment.

The Singaporean Prime Minister would be accompanied by his wife Ho Ching, a number of key Ministers and senior officials.

During the visit, he will be hosted for lunch by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the two leaders will hold bilateral talks to explore ways to bolster ties between the two countries.

Both leaders will tomorrow witness the exchange of an MOU on cooperation in industrial property between the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion, and Singapore’s Intellectual Property Office.

A file photo of . ReutersA file photo of . Reuters

A file photo of . Reuters

Besides that, two more MOUs will be exchanged on cooperation on establishment of a North East Skills Centre in Assam between the Assam Government and the Institute of Technical Education Education Services, and cooperation in skills development between the National Skill Development Corporation and Singapore’s Institute of Technical Education Education Services.

Lee will also call on President Pranab Mukherjee and attend a reception for Singaporeans based in India.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will also call on the Prime Minister of Singapore.

The Prime Minister of Singapore’s delegation would include Minister of Trade and Industry S Iswaran, Acting Minister of Education and Senior Minister of State for Defence, Ong Ye Kung, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Defence and Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mohamed Maliki Bin Osman, the External Affairs Ministry said.

Members of Parliament Denise Phua and Vikram Nair will also be part of the delegation.

The Prime Minister of Singapore will also visit Udaipur in Rajasthan on 5-6 October. State Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje will call upon him and also host the Singapore Prime Minister to a lunch.

During his visit to Udaipur, Lee will attend the launch of Centre of Excellence for Tourism Training as part of skills development collaboration under the India-Singapore Strategic Partnership signed in November 2015.

Besides that, he will also witness the signing of an MOU on cooperation on tourism and urban solutions between Rajasthan Government and Singapore’s International Enterprise.

An agreement on a Capacity Building Programme in tourism and hospitality between the state government and Singapore’s Cooperation Enterprise will also be signed.

He last visited India in December 2012 to attend the ASEAN-India Commemorative Summit.

Singapore PM Lee Hsien Loong to kickstart five-day India trip today

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Prime Minister of Singapore Lee Hsien Loong will arrive in India on Monday on a five-day visit aimed at deepening bilateral ties in a range of areas including trade and investment.The Singaporean Prime Minister would be accompanied by his wife Ho Ching, a number of key Ministers and senior officials.During the visit, he will be hosted for lunch by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the two leaders will hold bilateral talks to explore ways to bolster ties between the two countries.Both leaders will tomorrow witness the exchange of an MOU on cooperation in industrial property between the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion, and Singapore’s Intellectual Property Office.Besides that, two more MOUs will be exchanged on cooperation on establishment of a North East Skills Centre in Assam between the Assam Government and the Institute of Technical Education Education Services, and cooperation in skills development between the National Skill Development Corporation and Singapore’s Institute of Technical Education Education Services.Lee will also call on President Pranab Mukherjee and attend a reception for Singaporeans based in India.External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will also call on the Prime Minister of Singapore.The Prime Minister of Singapore’s delegation would include Minister of Trade and Industry S Iswaran, Acting Minister of Education and Senior Minister of State for Defence, Ong Ye Kung, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Defence and Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mohamed Maliki Bin Osman, the External Affairs Ministry said.Members of Parliament Denise Phua and Vikram Nair will also be part of the delegation.The Prime Minister of Singapore will also visit Udaipur in Rajasthan on October 5-6. State Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje will call upon him and also host the Singapore Prime Minister to a lunch.During his visit to Udaipur, Lee will attend the launch of Centre of Excellence for Tourism Training as part of skills development collaboration under the India-Singapore Strategic Partnership signed in November 2015.Besides that, he will also witness the signing of an MOU on cooperation on tourism and urban solutions between Rajasthan Government and Singapore’s International Enterprise.An agreement on a Capacity Building Programme in tourism and hospitality between the state government and Singapore’s Cooperation Enterprise will also be signed.He last visited India in December 2012 to attend the ASEAN-India Commemorative Summit.

Students from IITs and NITs to brainstorm for HRD’s ‘Smart India Hackathon’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The brightest minds from IITs, NITs and other premier institutes will soon be racking their brains for 36 hours to come up with out-of-box tech solutions for problems faced by various Union Ministries.In a first, Prakash Javadekar led Union Human Resource Development (HRD) ministry is planning to hold a unique ‘Smart India Hackathon 2017’ in January-February next year, which would reach out to 30 lakh students from all technology institutes in the country. “It would be the world’s largest event,” official sources told PTI.Smart India Hackathon is a 36 hours non-stop digital programming competition during which student teams will compete to offer innovative solutions for any given problem statement, sources said. “And the aim of this initiative is to harness the creativity and technical expertise of young minds studying in technology institutes to think out of the box and come up with innovative and disruptive tech solutions for some of the daunting problems faced by our nation,” a senior official said.Sources said that recently, Higher Education secretary in the HRD ministry V S Oberoi, had written to his counterpart in other ministries asking them to assign officers to identify around 30 problem statements which are of relevance to them so that they can be put to the contestants. “Already nearly 26 ministries have expressed willingness to participate in this unique contest which would be held simultaneously at 33 centres,” an official said.The HRD ministry has also roped in All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) and another body i4c for the event in which prize-winners will get lucrative cash rewards. “There could be a range of problems from those being faced at panchayat level to those at the level of the Centre. This exercise would help involve youth in finding solutions for these,” a senior official said.The first prize will include a cast reward of Rs 1 lakh while there will be lucrative prizes for the second and third position holders as well, it is learnt. The initiative is in line with the Modi government’s focus on digital technology and involving youngsters in tackling challenges being faced by the country, sources added.

Punjab CM Parkash Singh Badal falls ill, cancels all engagements

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal on Tuesday cancelled all his engagements as he was unwell. A spokesperson for the Chief Minister’s Office said Badal (88) has been advised rest and to avoid travelling by doctors who examined him in the morning. No details of the nature of his illness were, however, available.The chief minister is scheduled to visit the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) on Wednesday morning for a medical checkup and consultation.Badal was scheduled to visit Jalandhar today to attend the ‘Rasam Kriya’ of slain RSS leader Brigadier (retd) Jagdish Gagneja but had to cancel it at the last moment, said the spokesperson.

Autonomy for good institutions, heavy regulation for non-performing ones: Javadekar’s stick-and-carrot policy

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Centre is planning to give autonomy to “good” universities and make them ‘innovation hubs’ while impose heavy regulation on “non-performing” institutes, Union HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar said on Monday. “Universities that encourage innovation would be given support by the Centre. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s aim is to have innovation hubs across the country,” he said here. “We will support good universities by giving autonomy and reduce regulation, while universities that are not performing well would be heavily regulated. The government would, however, extend support to upgrade those,” Javadekar said.He was speaking after launching ‘OceanNet’, developed by Amrita University, that enables connectivity to fishermen in the sea. It was inaugurated on the eve of the 63th birthday celebrations of spiritual leader Mata Amritanandamayi at Amirtapuri near here. Asserting that the country can make progress only through innovation, Javadekar said the Centre could come up with plans of partnerships between universities and industries to encourage innovations.Praising ‘OceanNet’, the Union HRD minister said, “It is my duty and responsibility to support this type of ventures.” The communication system would provide a permanent solution to several issues faced by fishermen at sea. It would also help them and the Coast Guard to thwart any attempt by terrorist to sneak into the country through sea, he said.Highlighting the need to improve quality of education, Javadekar sought co-operation of all for the purpose, saying, “Education has no political agenda. It is a national agenda and not that of Left or Right.”

Mumbai terror alert: Search continues, police asks people to not spread rumours

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Terming reports of suspects being detained as “totally false”, police on Saturday asked people not to spread “uncorroborated information” in connection with search for suspected armed persons who were spotted near the Naval base in Uran in Raigad district. The search for the “suspicious men” continued for the third day on Saturday even as local police reduced the number of personnel involved in the operation. “Uran operations are still underway and there is no success so far,” Navi Mumbai Police Commissioner Hemant Nagarale said on Saturday.He appealed to people not to spread “uncorroborated information” about three suspects being detained by Panvel police at Gavhan village this afternoon, dubbing the reports as “totally false”. Another senior police official said the people in the photos, which were being circulated on social media, were some labourers whose identity was established by their employers.The police also withdrew a part of the additional force which was deployed in the search operation but the elite National Security Guard commandos continue being stationed in the area. Indian Navy which had sounded highest state of alert after the first report of sightings of the armed suspects, called off its search on Friday afternoon.
ALSO READ Mumbai terror alert: Indian Navy calls off operation, CM Fadnavis says information not corroboratedNormalcy seemed to be returning to the fishing town of Uran, located across the creek from Mumbai, with shops and commercial establishments opening up. Schools and colleges, shut since Friday, will also be resuming after the weekend. Some students of the Uran Education Society’s school had reported to have seen some suspicious-looking armed persons on Thursday.Western India’s biggest naval base, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, fertiliser plants, refineries, power plants and the country’s largest container port JNPT are located in the close vicinity of Uran.