Monday, 17 June 2019

India will lead by example in combating desertification: Union Environment Minister

Union Environment Minister today said that we as a country make targets not under any global pressure but for our own country’s real sustainable development, and as in the past India will play a leadership role and will lead by example in combating desertification. Speaking at an event in New Delhi on the occasion of World Day to combat desertification and drought Shri Javadekar announced that India will be hosting the fourteenth session of Conference of Parties (COP - 14) from 29th August – 14th September 2019.

The Union Minister further highlighted that with about 30% of country’s total geographical area being affected by land degradation; India has high stakes and stands strongly committed to the Convention. Shri Javadekar said that various schemes have been launched by the Government of India such as: Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY), Soil Health Card Scheme, Soil Health Management Scheme, Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojna (PKSY), Per Drop More Crop, , etc. which are helping to reduce land degradation. The Union Minister also unveiled the logo of COP-14 on the occasion.

CEO , NITI Aayog, Shri Amitabh Kant who was also present on the occasion said that the World Day to combat desertification is a unique occasion to remind global community that desertification can be effectively tackled, that solutions are possible, and that key tools to this aim lay in strengthened community participation and cooperation at all levels. Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Shri C.K. Mishra said that The World Day to Combat Desertification (WDCD) in 2019 will retrospect and celebrate the past years of progress made by India on sustainable land management.

The Union Minister also launched a flagship project on enhancing capacity on forest landscape restoration (FLR) and Bonn Challenge in India, through a pilot phase of 3.5 years implemented in the States of Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Nagaland and Karnataka. The project will aim to develop and adapt best practices and monitoring protocols for the Indian states and build capacity within the five pilot states on FLR and Bonn Challenge. This will be eventually scaled up across the country through subsequent phases of the project.

The Bonn Challenge is a global effort to bring 150 million hectares of the world’s deforested and degraded land into restoration by 2020, and 350 million hectares by 2030.At the UNFCC Conference of the Parties (COP) 2015 in Paris, India also joined the voluntary Bonn Challenge pledge to bring into restoration 13 million hectares of degraded and deforested land by the year 2020, and additional 8 million hectares by 2030. India’s pledge is one of the largest in Asia.

United Nations has 3 Rio Conventions namely, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD). Established in 1994, the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) is the only legally binding international agreement linking environment and development issues to the land agenda. In 1994, the United Nations General Assembly declared 17 June the "World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought" to promote public awareness and the implementation of the UNCCD in the desertification affected countries.

India is hosting the Fourteenth session of Conference of Parties (COP - 14) from 29th August - 14th September 2019 at India Expo Mart Limited, Greater Noida. One of the primary functions of the COP is to review reports submitted by the Country Parties detailing how they are carrying out their commitments. India will take-over the COP presidency from China for two years until the next COP is hosted in 2021.

Over 5,000 representatives from over 197 countries drawn from national, regional and local governments, science and research communities, the private sector, international and non-governmental organizations and all forms media will address the issue of combating desertification, land degradation and drought during the two-week event.


PM Shri Narendra Modi's Media Statement at the Start of the 17th Lok Sabha

The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, today, welcomed all the new MPs ahead of the first session of 17th Lok Sabha.

In the media statement before the start of session, Prime Minister said ,“Today marks the start of the first session after the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. I welcome all new MPs. With them comes new hopes, new aspirations and new determination to serve”.

The Prime Minister expressed happiness in the increased number of women Parliamentarians in the 17th Lok Sabha. He said that the Parliament is able to fulfil the aspirations of people when it functions smoothly.

The Prime Minister also underlined the importance of opposition in parliamentary democracy. He expressed hope that the opposition will play an active role and participate in House proceedings. The opposition need not worry about their numbers in the Lok Sabha, the PM said.

“When we come to Parliament, we should forget Paksh and Vipaksh. We should think about issues with a ‘Nishpaksh spirit’ and work in the larger interest of the nation”, PM added.

Union Minister, Dr. Harsh Vardhan writes to all CMs- Calls for strict action against any person who assaults doctors

Representatives from IMA and DMA call on him today(15.06.2019)
“State governments that do not have specific legislation to protect doctors and health professionals to consider enacting one immediately”

In view of the recent assault on doctors in West Bengal, Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare today wrote a letter to the Chief Ministers of all States and UTs drawing their attention for strict action against any person who assaults doctors.

Expressing deep concern over the recent act of violence against doctors, the Union Health Minister stated that incidents of assaults on doctors are reported from different parts of the country and this leads to sudden strike by doctors, gravely affecting the healthcare services. “Resident doctors in many parts of the country are agitating and not providing healthcare services. Agitations by doctors in West Bengal seem to be getting aggravated and taking shape of strike by both Government and Private sector doctors, all over the country”, he wrote. Representatives from the Indian Medical Association (IMA) and Delhi Medical Association (DMA) also called on Dr. Harsh Vardhan today.

Stressing further on the need for avoiding such incidents in future, Dr Harsh Vardhan said that the law enforcement should prevail so that doctors and clinical establishments discharge their duties and professional pursuit without fear of any violence. “Strict action against any person who assaults them, must be ensured by the law enforcement agencies,” he emphasized.

In his letter to the Chief Ministers, Dr. Harsh Vardhan cited a letter (dated 7th July, 2017) sent by the Union Health Ministry to all Chief Secretaries of States which contains the decision taken by an Inter-Ministerial Committee constituted under Ministry of Health to review the issues raised by IMA. The Committee, in its report, recommended that the Health Ministry shall suggest to all State governments which do not have specific legislation to protect doctors and health professionals to consider one to strictly enforce the provisions of special legislation wherever they exist or enforce the IPC/Cr.PC provisions with vigor. “The Indian Medical Association (IMA) has raised this concern many a time. Since ‘Police’ and ‘Public Order’ are State subjects, Government of India, on many occasions has drawn attention of State Governments for an urgent need for a robust criminal justice system with emphasis on prevention and control of crime,” Dr Harsh Vardhan mentioned. A copy of the Draft Act i.e. “The Protection of Medical Service Persons and Medical Service Institutions (Prevention of Violence and Damage or Loss of Property) Act, 2017 provided by IMA was also circulated to the States vide the 2017 letter. The draft Act includes clauses on penalty and recovery in case of loss/damage to property.

Through his letter to the States, Dr. Harsh Vardhan has reminded the Chief Ministers and requested them to consider enacting specific legislation for protecting doctors and medical professionals, and has forwarded the Draft Act provided by IMA i.e. the Protection of Medical Service Persons and Medical Service Institutions (Prevention of Violence and Damage or Loss of Property) Act, 2017.

Dr. Harsh Vardhan further said that doctors form an important pillar of society and often work under stressful and difficult conditions. “Our doctors rank among the best in the world and work for long hours under stressful conditions, grappling with a huge load of patients. It is the duty of State to ensure safety and security of doctors who assure that the healthcare needs of the society are met,” he highlighted.

Yesterday, while reviewing the situation, Dr. Harsh Vardhan had met a delegation of Resident Doctors Association of AIIMS, Safdarjung Hospital, Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital, United Resident & Doctors Association of India (URDA) and Federation of Resident Doctors Association (FORDA), who gave a representation to him on the violence against doctors in West Bengal. He had assured them his support and cooperation. The Union Health Minister has also written to Ms. Mamata Banerjee, Chief Minister of West Bengal yesterday in this matter.


Power Minister Shri RK Singh participates in G20 Ministerial Meeting on Energy Transitions and Global Environment for Sustainable Growth in Japan

‘India, implementing one of the largest Renewable Energy expansion programs and Energy Efficiency programmes’, says the Minister

ED, IEA praises the successful story of India’s Electrification program at the meet

DG, IRENA also mentions the success in Renewable Energy by India in his speech

‘India is implementing one of the largest Renewable Energy expansion programs, Energy Efficiency programmes and moving towards the achievement of our target to fulfill our commitments made in Paris Agreement on Climate Change’ said Shri RK Singh, Minister of State for Power and New & Renewable Energy (IC) and Skill Development & Entrepreneurship today. The Minister was making interventions at theG20 Ministerial Meeting on Energy Transitions and Global Environment for Sustainable Growth being held in Karuizawa, Nagano Prefecture, Japan on 15-16 June, 2019.

In the intervention made by the Minister, he highlighted the pathbreaking achievements in household electrification and providing energy access to all in India. The Minister also mentioned about the progressive steps towards the achievement of our target to fulfill our commitment made in Paris Agreement on Climate Change. He expressed confidence that India will achieve 40% RE in energy mix by 2030. In addition to this Shri Singh mentioned various energy efficiency programssuch as through PAT, UJALA, Standard & Labelling, ECBC etcand reiterated India’s commitment for greener and healthier planet.

Shri Singh said that India is achieving one of the largest expansion of renewable energy in the world and has become a net exporter of power in past 5 years. He also talked about India’s achievements in Transmission systems- One nation one Grid, Green Energy Corridors etc.

India’s achievements in power & RE sectors got appreciation at the Ministerial meet. DG, IRENA mentioned about the success in RE by India in his speech.ED, IEA also mentioned about the successful story of India’s Electrification program and praised it.

On the sidelines of the Meet, Shri Singh had bilateral meeting with ED, IEA, Mr.FatihBirol and discussed cooperation between India and IEA.

Shri RK Singh also had bilateral meeting withMs. Therese Coffey, Parliamentary Under Secretary for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, UKand discussed various areas of cooperation between the two countries related to Energy and environment.

Further, the Minister had a bilateral meeting with Mr. Hiroshige Seko, Minister of Economy, Trade& Industry, Japan and discussed various aspects of bilateral cooperation in Energy sector.

After that Shri Singh had a meeting with Russian Deputy Minister of Energy Mr Anton Inyutsin.

MoS (Finance & Corporate Affairs) holds Pre-Budget Consultation with representatives of various Trade Unions and Labour Organisations

The Minister of State for Finance & Corporate Affairs, Shri Anurag Thakur held the Pre-Budget Consultation with the representatives of various Trade Unions and Labour Organisations here today in connection with the forthcoming General Budget 2019-20.

During the course of meeting, representatives of Trade Unions and Labour Organisations shared their views and suggestions regarding labour and employment issues. Discussions were held on providing social security to labour besides skilling, re-skilling and up-skilling of existing labour force. Quality of job creation and ensuring minimum wages of workers were also discussed in detail besides the issue of rehabilitation of workers who have lost their jobs.

Along with the Minister of State for Finance & Corporate Affairs, the meeting was attended by Shri Ajay Bhushan Pandey, Revenue Secretary; Shri Girish Chandra Murmu, Expenditure Secretary; Shri Pramod Chandra Mody, Chairman, CBDT; Shri P.K. Das, Chairman, CBIC; Dr K.V. Subramanian, Chief Economic Adviser; Smt. Anuradha Prashad, Addl. Secretary, Ministry of Labour & Employment; Shri H. Srinivas, DG, V.V. Giri National Labour Institute and other senior officials of Ministry of Finance.

Experts and representatives from various Trade Unions and Labour Organisations gave suggestions related to alignment of skill development with aspirations of rural youth with focus on agriculture; need for strict enforcement of Minimum Wages Act; introduction of comprehensive unemployment insurance scheme; revision of ITIs’ syllabus for enhancing employability; provision of social security for contract workers; giving boost to capital intensive industry; conversion of casual/contractual workers to formalised employment; fixation of minimum wages on the recommendation of 15th Indian Labour Conference; increase in allocations on social sector and basic essential services like health, education and food security; stopping disinvestment and strategic sale of public sector units; extension of MGNREGA to remaining all rural areas and introducing it in urban areas besides increasing number of workdays under the scheme to 200 days and creation of National Fund for Unorganised Workers to provide social security among others.

Participants from various labour organisations included Shri B. Surendran, Organisational Secretary, Bhartiya Mzdoor Sangh; Shri G. Sanjeeva Reddy, president, INTUC; Ms Amarjeet Kaur, General Secretary, AITUC; Shri Mukesh Galav, Secretary, Hind Mazdoor Sabha; Ms Dagmar Walter, Director, ILO; Shri Manish Kumar, MD, National Skill Development Corporation; Shri Animesh Saxena, president, Federation of Indian Micro and Small & Medium Enterprises; Ms Vidhya Soundrarajan, Assistant Professor, IIM, Bangalore; Shri M. Sanmugam, General Secretary, Labour Progressive Federation; Shri Sankar Shah, General Secretary, AIUTUC; Shri Rajiv Dimri, General Secretary, All Indian Central Council of Trade Union; Ms Manali Shah, National Secretary, SEWA; Shri Soumitra Bhattacharya, Co-Chairman, CII National Committee on Skill Development & Livelihood; Shri K.V. Sekhar Raju, National president, Federation of Association of Small Industries of India; Shri Swadesh Dev Roye, National Secretary, Centre for Indian Trade Union; Shri Arun Chawla, Executive Director, All India Organisation of Employers among others.

Fifth Governing Council Meeting of NITI Aayog concludes

The fifth meeting of the Governing Council of NITI Aayog was held under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi at Rashtrapati Bhawan today. It was attended by the Governor of Jammu & Kashmir, 26 Chief Ministers and the Lieutenant Governor of Andaman & Nicobar Islands, apart from Union Ministers, who are ex-officio members and special invitees. Vice Chairman, Members, CEO and senior officers of NITI Aayog also attended the meeting .

Setting the tone of the meeting, the Prime Minister emphasized that this is the meeting of Team India. The PM said that States should recognise their core competence, and work towards raising GDP targets right from the district level.

The Prime Minister highlighted the importance of the Governing Council of NITI Aayog as a platform to inspire cooperative federalism, stressing the need to collectively combat poverty, unemployment, drought, pollution, pockets of under-development and all such factors that constrain India’s progress. He emphasized that the goal is to realize the potential of this great country, to create a New India by 2022 and a USD five trillion economy by 2024.

The Prime Minister emphasized the need for every State to focus on increasing its share in the country’s GDP by evaluating the export potential of the State and determining the steps necessary for increasing exports and boosting employment.

Vice Chairman, NITI Aayog urged all States to offer their suggestions on the policy recommendations contained in NITI Aayog’s ‘Strategy for New India @ 75’ so that they can be tweaked to suit the ground realities in individual States.

Welcoming the constructive discussion and suggestions made by various Chief Ministers, the Prime Minister assured the Council that these suggestions would be seriously considered in the course of decision-making. On the Agenda before the Fifth Council Meeting were the following items:
Rain-Water Harvesting
Drought Situation and Relief Measures
Aspirational Districts Programme – Achievements And Challenges 
Transforming Agriculture: Need For Structural Reforms With Special Emphasis On:
Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) Act
Essential Commodities Act (ECA) 
Security Related Issues with Specific Focus On LWE Districts

The Prime Minister appreciated the efforts of the States towards water conservation and urged all States to streamline and implement innovative water management measures. The creation of the Ministry of ‘Jal Shakti’ is a key step by the Union Government to develop an integrated and holistic perspective on water as a developmental resource.

There was broad consensus on reducing water wastage, promoting efficient water conservation practices across States, with rain-water harvesting to be undertaken at the household and community level with proactive policy and investment support. Various Chief Ministers presented best practices from their respective states which can serve as templates for replication across the country.

Many States such as Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Telangana, Gujarat and Karnataka have adopted good practices in water conservation and rainwater harvesting. Some innovative steps include the Jalyukt Shivarin Maharashtra which made 11,000 villages drought free, Mukhya Mantri Jal Swavalamban Abhiyaan which resulted in five feet rise in groundwater in 21 districts, and Mission Kakatiya in Telangana which irrigates 19 Lakh Acres. Similarly, Sujalam Sufalam in Gujarat and artificial recharge scheme in Karnataka show that determined action produces good results. The spirit of the meeting was to build on the strength of every State so that each State can learn from the innovation and best practices of other States.

The Council also deliberated upon a closely related and deeply important issue of drought management and associate relief measures. The need to safeguard Indian agriculture and protect farmers from the vagaries of unpredictable monsoons was highlighted in the meeting, with various Chief Ministers suggesting possible short-term and long-term solutions for making India a ‘drought-free’ nation. These included reviewing their district agriculture contingency plans, streamlining provision of inputs such as seeds and making contingency plans for irrigation etc. It has been proposed that the Union Government consider developing a comprehensive drought management plan that can be applicable across States.

The Prime Minister also called upon the Fifth Governing Council Meeting to undertake foundational reforms in the agri-economy, leading to a complete transformation of the agriculture sector in India. The core agenda items included the need to review the implementation of the Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) Act and possible reform in the form of the Model APMC Act as well as exploring changes in the Essential Commodities Act, to ensure fair remuneration for the farmers, streamlining of supply, driving more investment into the sector and predictability of policy at national and regional levels. The Prime Minister emphasized the need for undertaking structural reforms in agriculture including encouraging corporate investment, strengthening logistics and focusing on food processing.

The Governing Council also reviewed the implementation of the Aspirational Districts Programme, which has emerged as a major policy innovation in driving inclusive growth. Rapid progress has been achieved across all Aspirational Districts that have participated in this programme in 49 key performance indicators of human and social development. Various Chief Ministers noted the success of the programme in their respective States, and discussed possible schemes for extension of the programme to rapidly develop blocks in remote and difficult areas so that the spirit of inclusive development is effectively enforced. The Prime Minister commended the district administration teams on implementing several ‘out-of-the-box’ ideas in the Aspirational Districts resulting in significant transformation in many districts.

The Prime Minister also reaffirmed the commitment of the Government to combat Left Wing Extremism (LWE), noting that many of the aspirational districts are affected by Naxal violence. He assured the Council that the Ministry of Home Affairs will coordinate with all affected States to decisively end LWE violence and drive the agenda of development in these regions.

The Union Home Minister highlighted the initiatives taken by the Central Government over the last five years for ensuring development and security in LWE affected areas, with achievement of significant success through the steadfast implementation of National Policy & Action Plan of 2015. Essential steps such as deployment of the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) have helped carry out sustainable operations against Maoists.

He also informed the Council that there has also been an equally strong focus on developing road and telecom infrastructure in these areas. About 11,000 km of roads are being constructed at the cost of Rs 18,000 crore of which 5,500 km of road has already been completed. In order to improve telecom connectivity, 2335 mobile towers have also been installed and in next phase, 4072 towers costing Rs 11,000 Crore will be installed.

The Union Finance Minister appreciated the positive engagement and cooperation between the Centre and the States in the GST Council. She also highlighted the unprecedented devolution of a large share of funds from the Centre to the States over the last four years, noting that there has been massive increase in funds transfers under tax devolution, Finance Commission Grants and through other transfers such as under Centrally Sponsored Schemes. She stated that total transfers under various headings between 2011-12 and 2014-15 amounted to about Rs 20 lakh crore, but in the last four years this has increased to nearly Rs 41 lakh crore.

On the health sector, the Prime Minister said that several targets are to kept in mind, to be achieved by 2022. He also mentioned the target of eliminating TB by 2025. The Prime Minister urged those States who have not implemented PMJAY under Ayushman Bharat so far, to come onboard this scheme at the earliest. He said health and wellness should be the focal point of every decision.

Elaborating on the Union Government's guiding principle of Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas and Sabka Vishwaas, the Prime Minister said the schemes of the Union Government are no longer limited to certain people, or to certain regions, and are reaching everyone without discrimination, in a balanced way.

The Prime Minister announced the creation of a high-powered committee on structural reforms in agriculture. He further said that global circumstances currently offer a unique opportunity to India. He said India is establishing itself on global benchmarks such as Ease of Doing Business. To achieve the goal of becoming a five trillion dollar economy by 2024, the Prime Minister urged States to aim to increase their economy by 2 to 2.5 times, which would also increase the common man’s purchasing power. He called upon Chief Ministers to study their State's export potential and work on export promotion.

The Prime Minister said that the mining sector can provide significant employment opportunities. He said that bottlenecks in operationalization of mines continue to exist in several States. He said the NITI Aayog is working on these issues.

The Prime Minister thanked the Chief Ministers for their suggestions and reiterated that that the Union Government is keen to partner with the States, and work together for India's development. 

About the Governing Council of NITI Aayog

The Governing Council of NITI Aayog comprises the Prime Minister of India, Chief Ministers of all the States and Union Territories with Legislatures and Lt. Governor of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and four Union Ministers as ex-officio members and three Union Ministers as Special Invitees. It is the premier body tasked with evolving a shared vision of national development priorities, sectors and strategies with the active involvement of States in shaping the development narrative.

The First Meeting was held on 8 February 2015, at which the Prime Minister laid down the key mandates of NITI Aayog such as fostering cooperative federalism and addressing national issues through active participation of the States.The Second Meeting of the Governing Council took place on 15 July 2015 and the Third Meeting was held on 23 April 2017, which laid down milestones in shaping the country’s development agenda through strategy and vision documents.

The Fourth meeting of the Governing Council was held on 17 June 2018 and included reviewing measures taken for doubling farmers’ income and progress made under flagship schemes such as the Ayushman Bharat, POSHAN Abhiyaan and Mission Indradhanush.

The NITI Aayog has been mandated with fostering cooperative federalism through structured support initiatives and mechanisms with the States on a continuous basis, recognizing that strong States make a strong nation. It seeks to design and assist the implementation of strategic, long-term policy frameworks and programme initiatives, and also monitor their progress and efficacy.

The Governing Council, which embodies these objectives of cooperative federalism, presents a platform to discuss inter-sectoral, inter-departmental and federal issues in order to accelerate the implementation of the national development agenda, in the spirit of Ek Bharat, Shrestha Bharat.

Friday, 14 June 2019

FM, Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman holds Pre-Budget Consultation with representatives of Social Sector

The Union Minister of Finance & Corporate Affairs, Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman held her Fifth Pre-Budget Consultation Meeting with the stakeholders from Social Sector Groups here today.

In her Opening Remarks, the Finance Minister, Smt Nirmala Sitharaman said that the public investment in social infrastructure like education, health and other services is a key determinant of quality of life of the people. She said that the present Government is committed for improving the educational standards, skilling the youth, enhancing job opportunities, reducing disease burden, empowering women and improving human development in order to have an inclusive development.

The main areas of discussion during the aforesaid Meeting included issues relating to Health (Primary health & Tertiary services, Ayush &Ayurveda), Education (School & University education, Private & Public education), Social Protection (Old age, Women and Children, Dalits and Other Backward Classes & Youth), Pensions and Human Development among others.

Along with the Finance Minister, the aforesaid Meeting was attended by Shri Subhash C. Garg, Finance Secretary, Shri Girish Chandra Murmu, Expenditure Secretary, Shri Ajay Bhushan Pandey, Revenue Secretary, Shri Rejeev Kumar, Secretary, DFS, Shri Rabindra Panwar, Secretary, Ministry of Women & Child Development, Shri Balram Bhargava, Secretary, Department of Health Research, Smt. Preeti Sudan, Secretary, Department of Health & Family Welfare, Shri Heeralal Samariya, Secretary, Ministry of Labour & Employment, Shri Pramod Chandra Mody, Chairman, CBDT, Shri P.K Das, Chairman, CBIC, Dr K.V. Subramanian, CEA and other senior officials of the Ministry of Finance.

The stakeholders of Social Sector gave a wide range of suggestions in the Meeting including focus on education and hygiene particularly for rural women, audit of cities to identify security gaps to strengthen women safety, increased budgetary allocation towards nutrition of infants and pregnant mothers, full operationalization of one-stop centres for women in all districts, expansion of healthcare infrastructure, provision of free drugs and diagnostic facilities, rationalisation of taxes on medical devices, promotion of Public Private Partnership in Secondary and Tertiary Healthcare Sectors, creation of model schools on cluster-based approach with electronic and transport connectivity, increased allocation for post-metric scholarship schemes, recognising and encouraging contribution of teachers though instituting awards, investment in protection of children from labour, promoting focus on fruits and vegetables intake, higher taxation on sweetened and salted products, investment in hygiene behaviour, forming Rural Faecal Sludge Management Policy, promoting social entrepreneurship amongst young population, fiscal incentives for recycling of waste water and rainwater harvesting, declaring malnutrition free Panchayats on the line of Open-Defecation Free Panchayats, increased budgetary allocation for Special Schools and Rehabilitation Centres among others.

Stakeholders of Social Sector included Smt. Rekha Sharma, Chairperson, National Commission for Women, Shri Asadullah, Programme Director, Centre for Budget and Governance Accountability, Shri Arvind Lal, Chairman, Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, FICCI, Shri Prabhat Jain, Founding Chairman, FICCI, Smt. Yasmin Ali, UNICEF representative in India, Shri Vaidya Nathan. K., Finance Director, Indian School of Business; Smt. Yamini Aiyer, President, Centre for Policy Research; Smt. Beena Pallical, General Secretary, National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights; Smt. Jashodhara Dasgupta, Executive Director, National Foundation for India; Shri Rohit Prasad, Chief Operating Officer, Helpage India, Shri Amit Shovon Ray, Senior Adviser, Voluntary Health Association of India, Shri Srikanth Vishwanathan, CEO Janaagraha Centre for Citizenship and Democracy and Smt. Priyanka Kanoongo, Chairperson, National Commission for Protection of Child Rights among others.

India will lead by example in combating desertification: Union Environment Minister

Union Environment Minister today said that we as a country make targets not under any global pressure but for our own country’s real susta...