• Energy focus shall be Putin-Modi meet
    • Expansion of ties in a range of crucial sectors like nuclear energy, hydrocarbons and defence will be in focus when Russian President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Narendra Modi deliberate at the annual summit on Thursday with an aim to further strengthen the already close strategic partnership.

    • In his talks with Modi, both in restricted and delegation level formats, Putin is likely to seek deeper economic engagement with the “time-tested” ally to negate affect of sanctions against Russia by the US and its Western allies over the Ukraine issue.

      Both sides are looking at inking 15-20 pacts following the summit which has been taking place since 2000 alternately in Moscow and New Delhi.

      Ahead of his visit, Putin termed ties with India as “privileged strategic partnership” and said construction of new nuclear plants besides military and technical cooperation was high on the agenda for talks.

      He said Russia was keen to export liquefied natural gas (LNG) to India and involve ONGC in oil and gas hunt in the Arctic.

      Energy-starved India, which is the third largest oil importer after the US and China has been pushing for greater involvement in major gas and oil exploration projects in Russia and both the leaders are set to discuss the issue.

      Russia is one of the top oil producers globally and has huge reserves of natural gas.

      In the nuclear energy sector, Russia may offer to set up a total of 20-24 nuclear energy production units in India against previously agreed 14-16 plants.

      Both sides are also likely to come out with a roadmap for cooperation in the overall energy sector.

      Russian Ambassador Alexander Kadakin said the two countries will start negotiations for setting up of units five and six at the Kudankulam nuclear power complex soon and may sign a technical pact for units 3 and 4 during Putin’s stay here.

      Russia was awaiting India’s decision to allot a site for construction of a new Russian-designed nuclear power plant and the issue may figure in the talks.

      Putin will be accompanied by around 15 business tycoons from Russia and both Modi and the Russian President are expected to jointly interact with CEOs of major companies from both the countries as enhancing trade ties will be a major item on the agenda of the summit.

      The volume of bilateral trade was USD 10 billion in 2013 and both sides feel there was “huge opportunity” to improve it significantly.

      India has been working to have a trade pact with “Eurasian space” for improved trade and commerce which will also improve trade with Russia.

      India’s exports, particularly food items, to Russia have gone up since sanctions were imposed against that country by Western nations for its interventions in the crisis in Ukraine.

      India has been maintaining that it cannot be party to any economic sanctions against Russia.

      Both the leaders are likely to discuss improving supply of rough diamonds by Russia to India. Russia is the world’s top producer of rough diamonds and India is one of its largest importers. Putin will also inaugurate World Diamond Conference.

      In the defence sector, Putin may push for larger procurement of military hardware from Russia by India.

      Russia has been a major defence supplier to India and its share has been 60-70 per cent in the country’s import of military hardware.

      Sources said specific discussions are likely to take place on various key projects including the envisaged gas pipeline linking Russia with India and the ambitious Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA) programme.

      Listing the joint strategic projects, Putin said these included construction of new units for Indian nuclear power plants, promotion of Russian Sukhoi superjet-100 and MS-21 passenger aircraft to Indian market besides manufacturing of helicopters and creating a “smart city” on the basis of Russian technology.

      It will be the first annual summit meeting between Putin and Modi.

      The two leaders have met twice during the year.

      They met on the sidelines of the BRIC summit in Brazil in July and during the G-20 summit in Australia last month.

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    • Posted 13 hours ago by Sagar Media Inc

Dec

10

    • Posted 13 hours ago by Sagar Media Inc
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    • Richard Rahul Verma confirmed as US Ambassador to India
      Richard Rahul Verma was on Wednesday unanimously confirmed as the next US Ambassador to India by the Senate, making him the first-ever Indian-American to hold the post.
      46-year-old Verma’s nomination was approved by the Senate by a voice vote, reflecting a sense of bi-partisan support to the Indo-US ties and showing his popularity among Senators across the aisle.

      The Senate raced through his nomination process ahead of more than 50 ambassadorial nominations to make sure that he is in New Delhi when US President Barack Obama travels to India to be the chief guest at the Republic Day parade on January 26.

      Verma, who quietly played an important role in the Congressional passage of civil nuclear deal with India, had advocated for strong Indo-US ties when in the administration and recently started “India 2020” project at Centre for American Progress a top American-think tank.

      He will replace Nancy Powell, who resigned in March after a damaging row over the treatment of diplomat Devyani Khobragade over visa fraud charges.

      The US Embassy in New Delhi is currently headed by charge d’affaires Kathleen Stephens.

      Verma is currently a senior counsellor at Steptoe & Johnson law firm and the Albright Stonebridge Group a business advisory company led by former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

      Verma’s association with Obama goes back to 2008 when he worked on presidential debate preparations for the then Illinois senator.

      His parents came to the US in the early 1960s.

      “Rich Verma’s confirmation as US Ambassador to India is a huge victory for the US-India strategic partnership.

      That Rich was confirmed by a voice vote by the United States Senate is a potent demonstration of the high esteem in which both he and the bilateral relationship are held by both parties in Washington,” Ronak D Desai, an academic at Harvard University’s India and South Programme, said.

      “As President Obama prepares to make his second trip to India next month, he is fortunate to have Rich at the helm of our Embassy in New Delhi. He will prove instrumental in navigating US foreign relations with India to the new, unexplored heights,” Desai said.

Dec

10

    • Posted 13 hours ago by Sagar Media Inc
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    • World Diamond ConferenceThe Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi and Mr. Vladimir Putin, President of Russia, will jointly inaugurate “World Diamond Conference”, as per the following details:Date:          Thursday, December 11, 2014          Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman, MoS (IC) for Commerce & Industry will also be present.
    • You are requested to depute your PIB accreditedCorrespondent/Reporter/Photographer/Cameraperson for the coverage of the aforesaid event.Media is requested to take their position inside the hall latest by 1500 hrs and entry will be strictly by PIB accreditation card only. 
    • Time:         1600 hrs onwards
    • Venue:       Plenary Hall, Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi
    • Dear Sir/Madam,

Dec

10

    • Posted 13 hours ago by Sagar Media Inc
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    • India and Japan Release Joint Statement on Cooperation for Information and Communication Technologies (ICT)
      India and Japan held a Joint Working Group conference for Comprehensive Cooperation Framework for Information and Communication Technologies (ICT). Further they decided to release a joint statement as under:

      Taking forward the agenda of India-Japan ICT Comprehensive Cooperation Framework, the Second India – Japan Joint Working Group conference was held on December 03, 2014, under the auspices of the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT) of India and the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications of Japan (MIC). The conference was inaugurated by Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad, the Minister of Communication and Information Technology of India. The conference was co-chaired by Shri. Yasuo Sakamoto, the Vice Minister for Policy Coordination of the MIC from Japan and Shri Rakesh Garg, Secretary (Telecom) from India, was preceded by a bilateral meeting of officials of the two sides. The conference was attended by representatives of the ICT industry also of both Japan and India.

      In the bilateral meeting of the officials, both sides exchanged views on ICT policies in both countries and developments in the field with the aim of strengthening and deepening cooperation in the field of ICT, including ICT products manufacturing and R & D between Japan and India.

      During the conference both sides gave presentations on the areas where joint projects are possible to be undertaken immediately. Taking forward the agenda of the Joint Statement made at the India-Japan Summit Meeting in September 2014 by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi and the Prime Minister Shri Shinzo Abe on promoting cooperation in the field of ICT, both sides prioritized areas of Green ICT, Cyber Security Cooperation and ICT for Disaster Management for detailed deliberations with a view to start working on the implementation of these joint projects by early 2015. At the summit,  both sides had arrived at consensus not only on the deepening of relations between both India and Japan in the field of ICT but also on recognition of the contribution of ICT to solve global challenges, and expressed their expectations toward further development of cooperation between India and Japan in the field of ICT.

      During the conference, Japan made a proposal for candidates of joint projects involving the said priority areas, and as a result of discussions, it was decided to work on the following five projects as India-Japan joint projects to be implemented.

      ü        Green ICT
      –  Green Mobile Base Station project

      ü        Cyber Security Cooperation
      –  Japan-India Combat Spam project

      – Cooperative project for detecting symptoms and quick response to cyber attacks (PRACTICE)

      ü        ICT for Disaster Management (ICT4DM)
      –  ICT Use in disaster-affected areas project

      ü        ICT Application for Social and Economic Challenges
      –  National ID Application and Utilization Platform project

      MCIT, India and MIC, Japan will coordinate the activities for taking these projects forward by discussing with the industry from both sides.

      Further exchange of views and opinions were made on the areas, such as development of standards, for future cooperation based on the constructive presentations from both Japan and India. Further, India offered Japan to manufacture ICT equipment in India taking advantage of new conducive environment for manufacturing in India.

      The next joint working group conference and meeting is to be held in 2015 in Tokyo.

Dec

10

    • Posted 13 hours ago by Sagar Media Inc
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    • New Policy for Surrenders by Maoists
      In order to bring Left Wing Extremists into the mainstream, the State Governments have their own surrender and rehabilitation policies. The Central Government reimburses the expenditure incurred by the State Governments on rehabilitation of surrendered Left Wing Extremists in terms of its own policy in this regard. The Government of India has revised the guidelines for ‘Surrender-cum-Rehabilitation Scheme of Left Wing Extremists in the affected States’ with effect from 1.4.2013. The rehabilitation package in the revised policy, inter-alia, includes an immediate grant of Rs. 2.5 lakh for higher ranked Left Wing Extremist (LWE) cadres and Rs. 1.5 lakh for middle/ lower ranked LWE cadres who surrender before the State Government concerned. Also, these surrenderees would be provided a monthly stipend of Rs. 4000/- for a period of three years for vocational training. In addition, incentives for surrender of weapons/ ammunition etc. are also provided under the said Scheme.

      A total of 437 LWE cadres have surrendered during the period 1st May to 15th November, 2014 in the States of Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Odisha and Telangana.

      This was stated by the Minister of State for Home Affairs, Shri Haribhai Parathibhai Chaudhary in a written reply to Shri Majeed Memon in the Rajya Sabha today.

Dec

10

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    • Inter-State Border Dispute in North-Eastern States
      There are some border disputes between the States of Assam-Nagaland and Assam-Meghalaya. Tensions occasionally develop along the inter-state border, which sometimes flare up into the incidents of violence. As per the report, in the current year, seven incidents of violence took place along Assam-Nagaland border on local issues, resulting in loss of twelve lives. Besides, due to violence which took place in August, 2014, people took refuge in the relief camps set up by the State Government. The two State Governments took immediate necessary action to prevent further recurrence of such incidents. Necessary compensation to the families of the victims and relief were provided who took refuge in the relief camps. In so far as Assam-Meghalaya border is concerned, no such incident of violence is reported in the recent past.

      The Government of Assam had filed Original Suit No. 2/88 in the Supreme Court of India for demarcation of boundaries between the states of Assam-Nagaland. The Supreme Court vide its judgment and order dated 25.9.2006 has appointed a Local Commission for identification of boundaries of the States of Assam-Nagaland. The Local Commission is continuing its hearing. While hearing an application filed by Government of Nagaland in Original Suit No. 2/88, the Supreme Court vide its order dated 20.8.2010, inter alia, directed that apart from continuation of the Local Commission, possibility to resolve the issue through mediation may also be explored and for this purpose appointed two Co-mediators. Mediators have submitted their report to the Supreme Court of India. In so far as boundary dispute between Assam and Meghalaya is concerned, the Central Government has advised both the State Governments to settle the dispute amicably.

      The approach of the Central Government has consistently been that inter-State boundary disputes can be resolved only with the willing cooperation of the State Governments concerned and that the Central Government works only as a facilitator for amicable settlement of the dispute in a spirit of mutual accommodation and understanding.

      This was stated by the Minister of State for Home Affairs, Shri Kiren Rijiju in a written reply to Shri Santiuse Kujur in the Rajya Sabha today.

Dec

10

  • Evaluation and Monitoring of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan Programme
    A total of 16,657 primary and 4,726 upper primary schools have been sanctioned for opening under SSA during the last three years. States/Union Territories have opened 30,664 primary and 11,017 upper primary schools during the last three years. In the current year, 347 primary and 248 upper primary schools have been sanctioned. 334 primary and 37 upper primary schools have been opened in the current year, 2014.

    The Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) programme has an inbuilt concurrent evaluation and monitoring system. It is reviewed twice every year by a Joint Review Mission (JRM) comprising independent experts and members of external funding agencies, covering all States by rotation. The 20th JRM was held from 7th-17th October, 2014. In addition 38 Monitoring Institutions assess implementation of the SSA Programme in the districts, and every district is assessed within a cycle of two years. Educational data on outcomes, is collected through a Unified District Information System for Education (UDISE) every year. All these evaluations and monitoring are placed in the public domain on the Ministry of HRD website.

    This information was given by the Union Human Resource Development Minister, Smt. Smriti Irani in a written reply to the Lok Sabha question.

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