Campus Notes

Academic institutions can play catalyzing role in Skill India, Start-up India: Mukherjee

President Pranab Mukherjee today said higher academic institutions can play a catalyzing role in initiatives like Skill India and Start-up India with their expertise and also involve their students to identify and solve problems at the grassroots level.
Addressing the 1st Convocation of the National Institute of Technology (NIT), Delhi, Mr Mukherjee said the future direction of technical education in India will be guided by frontline engineering institutions like Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and NITs.
An excellent research and teaching infrastructure and a pool of committed faculty will be the pillars to build them into top-notch institutions, he added.
To train students for a globalized world, there is need for competent faculty to render world-class teaching. Refresher courses, participation in international seminars and workshops, and publishing of papers in peer-reviewed journals need to be accorded top priority, the President said.
India is an old land but a young nation. It has developed remarkably after independence, growing in all sectors from industry to agriculture and services, he said.
“Given our potential, we can soon count ourselves amongst the advanced nations of the world. Our aspirations are big but certainly achievable,” he added.
Mr Mukherjee said what gave him the confidence is the capability, skill and talent available in the pool of engineers, technologists, scientists, managers, administrators, policy-makers, doctors, lawyers, scholars and researchers. “They are the ones on whom the onus of meeting our development challenge rests,” he added.
“Our centres of higher learning have the onerous responsibility to mould the nation-builders of tomorrow. They must support the scholastic pursuit and capacity development of students in an efficient manner. They must promote continuous growth and learning. Special capacities must be infused through the education system for nurturing students for a life-time,” the President said.
He segregated these capacities into three important elements. First of all,  becoming adept at using technology: with Institutes equipped with knowledge networks and world-class laboratory equipments. This would facilitate students to work and experiment with the best-in-line tools and instruments.
The faculty must keep themselves updated with the latest know-how. Only then dissemination of frontier level knowledge to their students would be possible.
Secondly, a strong research orientation can lead to immense value addition to what the engineering students learn in manufacturing and design.
“The amount of information available in this era of internet and multimedia is simply huge. Students must learn to gather the vast knowledge from outside and apply to their own learning framework to develop innovative designs and models. As budding engineers and scientists, they must keep track of the fast changing needs of society and attempt at solving problems keeping the human aspect in view,” he said.
Thirdly, an aptitude for entrepreneurship for societal development must be fostered. For that, a vision of human betterment must be instilled in students, he added.
Congratulating all the graduating students, Mr. Mukherjee said the maiden convocation is an important milestone for NIT Delhi. Despite operating from a transit campus, it has made best efforts to maintain the standard of education and offer state-of-the-art infrastructure for academic activity.
The institute has carved a niche for itself in a short span of time, he said, and complimented the management for its foresight, the faculty members for their sincerity and dedication, and the staff and other employees for their hard work and commitment. He urged them to move ahead with pride and determination.

President urges law students to battle for people’s rights and welfare

President Pranab Mukherjee addressing the 24th annual convocation of the National Law School of India University, Bangalore, on August 28, 2016.
President Pranab Mukherjee addressing the 24th annual convocation of the National Law School of India University, Bangalore, on August 28, 2016.
President Pranab Mukherjee today said the legal fraternity, especially law students, must be in the vanguard of the battle for the rights and welfare of the people.
Addressing the 24th Annual Convocation of National Law School of India University (NLSIU) here, he said universities like NLSIU must “take the lead in meeting contemporary challenges and ensure that our civilizational values of love for motherland, performance of duty, compassion for all, tolerance, pluralism, respect for women, honesty in life, self-restraint in conduct, responsibility in action and discipline are fully entrenched in young minds.”
For this purpose, students should read, learn and formulate views on national issues. A democracy cannot be healthy without informed participation and it is not enough to merely vote periodically.
The first Law School of its kind in the country, NLSIU was created in 1986 to reform legal education and establish a centre of excellence for legal education and research in India. It has consistently been No. 1 in most surveys conducted of Law Schools in India, he noted. 
Its students, alumni and faculty have already established for themselves an excellent reputation in the country and abroad for their knowledge, intellect, character and leaderships skills, the President noted. 
Pointing out that legal education has undergone a paradigm shift in the last two decades, Mr Mukherjee said NLSIU must bridge the gap between the theoretical concepts and practical application.  It must ignite inquiry and spirit of asking questions on all issues.
India has one of the finest constitutions in the world.  Its driving principle is a compact between state and citizen, a powerful public-private partnership nourished by justice, liberty and equality, the President said. 
“The Constitution represented a second liberation, this time from the stranglehold of traditional inequality in gender, caste, community along with other fetters that had chained us for too long.
“I urge all of you students of law to study our Constitution well.  Understand our political system, its institutions and processes as established by the Constitution and law. Analyse the choices that were made to build the country into what it is today. Recognize that intelligent choices will need to be made for enabling this country reach her maximum potential. Participate in making these choices and don’t just be a bystander,” he added.
Lawyers are given a special status in this country because society recognizes the special functions that they perform. Lawyers have a duty to fight injustice wherever it exists. Supreme Court of India has through public interest litigation provided a powerful instrument in the hands of the common people which strengthened democracy, the President added.

Electropreneur Park at Delhi University to incubate 50 early-stage start-ups

Union Minister for Electronics & Information Technology Ravi Shankar Prasad today inaugurated an Electropreneur Park at University of Delhi, South Campus to incubate 50 early stage start-ups and create at least five global companies over a period of five years.
Mr Prasad said India had to take the lead in the ongoing digital revolution as it alone had the potential to transform the country into a vibrant economy.
The NDA Government has already sown the seeds for this and introduced programmes like Make in India, Skill india and Stand Up India with the purpose of making all sections of the society equal partners in these game changing initiatives, he added.
The initiative to set up the electropreneur park was taken by Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology. Managed by Software Technology Parks of India (STPI), it is implemented by India Electronics and Semiconductor Association (IESA).
The incubation centre has already incubated six early-stage start-ups, with a few more in the process of on-boarding. 
The start-ups under incubation were awarded the admission certificate during the inauguration of the centre. The selection was done based on the stringent evaluation of about 200 proposals received.

Universities must be bastions of free speech, expression: Mukherjee

Universities must be the bastions of free speech and expression where there should be no room for intolerance, prejudice and hatred, President Pranab Mukherjee said today.
Addressing the first convocation of Nalanda University after laying the foundations stone of its new campus here, he said universities must be the arena where diverse and conflicting schools of thought contend.
"There should be no room for intolerance, prejudice and hatred within the spaces of this institution. Further, it must act as a flag bearer for the coexistence of multiple views, thoughts and philosophies.
"The lesson for modern Nalanda is to ensure that this great tradition finds new life and vigour within its precincts," he said.
Mr. Mukherjee said the ancient Nalanda was a melting pot of civilizations and modern India should remain the same. 
“We should not close our windows and yet we should not be blown off by winds from outside. We should let the winds flow freely from all over the world and get enriched by them. We should embrace free discussion and debate leaving behind narrow mindsets and thoughts,” he added.
Mr Mukherjee said as Visitor to Nalanda University, it was his hope that it would truly attain the status of the Nalanda of yore. There are many practices of ancient Nalanda which are worthy of emulation by the new Nalanda. One of the most important characteristics of ancient Nalanda was that it was an international institution where inter-Asian connections, in particular, flourished, he said.
Chinese monks like Xuan Zang, Yijing and Huichao, among others, visited, lived, studied and taught in Nalanda. At a later period, scholars from Tibet kept coming to N?land? for studying Buddhism and other branches of knowledge, he said.
Monks from several other countries including Sri Lanka also came to N?landa, revealing the diversity of religious and cultural influences on the institution. And, the traffic was not just in one direction. Monks from N?land? spread their wisdom across the world and had reached China before Xuan Zang’s visit to India.
The President said ancient Nalanda was known for the high level of debate and discussion it nurtured. It was not a mere geographical expression but it reflected an idea and a culture.
Nalanda conveyed the message of friendship, cooperation, debate, discussion and argument. Discussion and debate are part of our ethos and life, he said.
Mr Mukherjee said though the main subjects of study were the Buddhist texts, importance was also given to critiques of Buddhism by various schools, study of Vedas and beyond.
“I am pleased to know that the Nalanda University has around 125 students including about 25 foreign students from countries such as China, Japan, Vietnam, Korea, Laos, Myanmar, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Nigeria and Brazil,” he said.
“With students and faculty from many countries, modern day Nalanda is a novel institution pioneering a new model of learning. Its vision is to “be universalist in its outlook, open to currents of thought and practice from around the globe, and respond to the needs of a world.” It is a matter of satisfaction that within a short period of time, Nalanda has established linkages of various kinds with many leading educational institutions around the world,” he added.
The President said he personally witnessed the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Nalanda University and Peking University during his visit to China in May this year.
The new Nalanda University is envisioned as a non-state, non-profit, secular, and self-governing international institution. “Our goal is to bring together the brightest and the most dedicated students from all over the world, especially Asia - irrespective of gender, caste, creed, different abilities, ethnicity or social-economic background and enable them acquire a liberal education,” he added.
“I am particularly happy to see the first batch of students from this University graduate today. I have often spoken of the time when India played a dominant role in the higher education system of the world. Renowned seats of learning like Nalanda, Takshashila, Vikramashila, Valabhi, Somapura and Odantapuri were magnets which attracted scholars from all over the world. They stood at the crossroads of many civilizations and spread knowledge far and wide. Sadly, India’s modern day universities are yet to reach the top position in world rankings. We must work towards regaining that glory of the past,” he added.
The President said, as a result of his persistent efforts, Indian institutions for the first time secured ranks within the top 200 universities in the world in the QS world university rakings 2015. IISc, Bangalore at 147th and IIT, Delhi at 179th position have done exceedingly well, with IIT, Bombay close on the heels at the 202nd rank.
Three other IITs were within the top 300 institutions and they can come within the top 200 in the next one or two years. In the QS university rankings 2015 for the BRICS region, five Indian institutions came in the top 20, including IISc, Bangalore which was ranked fifth.
In the list of top 20 small universities (criteria: less than 5,000 students) by the Times Higher Education, there were two Indian institutions – IIT, Guwahati at 14th and Savitribai Phule, Pune University at the 18th position. Recently, in a ranking amongst Asian institutions, five Indian institutions are placed in the top fifty, he added.

Progress not possible without knowledge society: Mukherjee

Stressing the need for research and innovation, President Pranab Mukherjee today said progress would not be possible without a knowledge society.
Knowledge leads to technology and technology to prosperity, Mr Mukherjee said in his address at the first convocation of the  Management Development Institute (MDI) at Murshidabad in West Bengal.
He recalled that he had taken the initiative for establishment of the institute when he was representing the area in Parliament.
As the first batch of students received their management degrees today, he was happy to share this significant moment in their life, he said.
The President said technology was the key to advancement. “Despite the fact we have created good infrastructure in our higher educational system, hardly any of the Indian Universities find place in the top global rankings,” he said.
After his continuous exhortation to institutions to take the ranking process seriously, the situation has started improving. Two institutions of higher learning have come within the top 100 in the world in the year 2015. Mr Mukherjee said he expected more institutions to figure high in the rankings in the future.
West Bengal Governor Kesari Nath Tripathi and Union Minister for Food Processing Industries Harsimrat Kaur Badal were among those present on the occasion.

Javadekar inaugurates Indian Institute of Technology, Raipur

Chhattisgarh has joined the ranks of States having the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) with the inauguration of IIT Raipur by Union Human Resource Development Minister Prakash Javadekar here yesterday.
Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Javadekar said the institute would have its own campus by the time the first batch of students passes out. He also congratulated students who had secured admission saying that it was a difficult task to crack IIT entrance test.
Appreciating the ‘Prayas Avasiya Vidhyalaya’ initiative of Chhattisgarh Government, the Minister said it was a successful and meaningful example of imparting quality education to all, especially those who come from disadvantaged sections of society.  
During interaction with students of Prayas Vidyalaya, he said it is remarkable that the talented students of Naxalite-affected districts were being given free coaching in 11th and 12th standards for appearing in PMT, JEE and other competitive exams.

College of Veterinary Sciences & Animal Husbandry inaugurated in Nagaland

Union Agriculture and Farmers' Welfare Minister Radha Mohan Singh inaugurated the College of Veterinary Sciences & Animal Husbandry at Jalukie village in Peren District of Nagaland under the aegis of the Central Agricultural University (CAU), Imphal yesterday.
Speaking on the occasion, he said the Union Government had established the CAU in the region in 1992, taking into account the need for agricultural education. The university has so far established seven colleges.
Recently, the Union Cabinet has approved the amendment of CAU Act, 1992 to include the state of Nagaland under the jurisdiction of the Central Agricultural University, Imphal.
The state Government provided suitable land free of cost to establish the college. The Minister expressed the hope that the new college would try to maintain higher standards of education and help Nagaland make rapid development and advancement in term of agriculture and allied sciences and human resource sector.
He acknowledged that animal husbandry practices have been playing a pivotal role in supplementing family income and generating employment to the rural poor apart from efficient utilization of agricultural products and by-products suitable for human consumption.
Mr. Singh also inaugurated a Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK) in Peren. He said a seed hub was being established under the aegis of CAU, Imphal and another in ICAR Research Complex at Agartala. One KVK
Mr Radha Mohan Singh also inaugurated KVK in Peren. He further stated that one Seed Hub is being established under the aegis of Central Agricultural University (CAU), Imphal and another in ICAR Research Complex for NEH Region, Tripura Centre located in Agartala. One KVK would be established this year in Kifre district he said.
Front line demonstration of pulses and oil seeds would be conducted in 60 hectares and 220 hectares, respectably in the state this year, he added.

Javadekar inaugurates Indian Institute of Technology, Jammu

Union Minister for Human Resource Development  Prakash Javadekar inaugurated the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Jammu here yesterday and stated that special attention would be paid to bring in all the facilities and trainers to  ensure quality.
The institution is the first IIT for Jammu and Kashmir with a permanent campus to come up in more than 500 acres of land near Jammu city.
In the first year, the IIT will function from a well-equipped temporary campus in Paloura, Jammu.
Dr. Jitendra Singh, Minister of State in Prime Minister's Office (PMO),  Mr Jugal Kishore, MP, Mr Shamsher Singh Manhas, MP, Dr. Nirmal Kumar Singh, Deputy Chief Minister,  Jammu & Kashmir, Ms Priya Sethi, MoS for Education, J & K and other dignitaries were present during the ceremony held at KCS College of Education, Paloura.
Mr  Javadekar expressed the hope that the institute would go a long way in building and harnessing the immense talent of the entire State.
The institute will offer a set of programmes across various academic streams that will follow a credit system and the performance in a course will be continuously evaluated. he added.

CCEA okays upgradation of 13 government medical colleges

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) yesterday approved the  upgradation of 13 existing Government Medical Colleges/Institutes (GMCIs) in various states under the Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana (PMSSY). 
The upgradation will be done at a cost of Rs. 200 crore for each GMCI (Central share: Rs. 120 crore and State share Rs. 80 crore), an official press release said.
Accordingly the total upgradation cost will be Rs. 2,600 crore out of which the Central share will be Rs. 1,560 crore and that of states will be Rs. 1,040 crore. The upgradation will be completed in 36 months.
The GMCIs to be upgraded are: PMCH, Patna; GMC, Bhagalpur; GMC Gaya; GMC Bilaspur; GMC, Jagdalpur; UCMS-GTB Hospital, Delhi; GMC, Surat; GMC, Bhavnagar; GMC, Indore; GMC, Cuttack; GMC, Jaipur; GMC Agra; and GMC Kanpur.
The release said the upgradation of the existing GMCIs would create tertiary care facilities, which would serve as composite centres for continued professional education, treatment, patient care and multi skilling of health workers.
"The upgradation of medical colleges under PMSSY broadly involves strengthening of the existing departments as well as building Super Speciality Blocks / Trauma Centres or other necessary facilities as Centres of Excellence etc.  However, the upgradation process will vary from one institution to another as per the specific local needs.  The facilities to be augmented during upgradation will be decided after proper gap analysis involving all stakeholders," the release added.

Javadekar inaugurates IIT Goa, calls for improvement in global rankings of Indian institutions

Union Human Resources Development Minister Prakash Javadekar said here yesterday that his Ministry was working towards enhancing the perception about Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) to get them top positions in world rankings.
Inaugurating the Indian Institute of Technology, Goa on July 30, Mr Javadekar pointed out that IITs are already recognised the world over as premier institutes of academic excellence, He also laid the foundation stone for IIT Goa Students’ Hostel.
The newly set up IIT Goa will function from a temporary campus at Goa Engineering College, Farmagudi and will be mentored by IIT Mumbai.
The Minister said the permanent campus at Loliem would be completed within 1000 days.
He also referred to the IIT-PAL platform which prospective IIT students could use to receive coaching for the entrance exam from the best professors across the country through online, TV or other new media.
The IITs could use the Central Government’s Uchhatar Avishkar Yojana (UAY) in which industries could give specific research request to IITs and co-partner in technological development. The Global Initiative of Academic Networks (GIAN) is to enable the best practices of foreign countries to be implemented in India through idea exchange, he said.
The Minister emphasised on innovation and Make in India, promising that the Government will extend all support in making IITs as Start-Up hubs.
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, who was also present, said the summer internship programme of IIT students could be conducted at various defence research establishments to add value to their curriculum. He also referred to a programme in which scientists from DRDO would act as visiting faculty members to various IITs. 
The proposed campus for NIT Goa will be established at Cuncolim removing all the bottlenecks.
The campus for the Indian Institute of Technology Goa (IIT Goa) will be developed at Loliem, a quiet town in Canacona taluka in the southernmost tip of Goa. It is bounded by Galgibag River in the North, village of Poinguinim along the East, Uttar Kannada district of Karnataka state in the South and Arabian Sea to the West.
Historically, Loliem was a village of metallurgical artisans who made idols of gods and goddesses using aluminum and iron during the reign of the Kadambas of Banavasi (345 – 525 CE) and was, therefore, called Lohahalli.
Subsequently, when Goa became a Portuguese colony, its name was changed to Loliem. The village had a check post for road transit to other parts of India until 1961, when Goa was incorporated into the Indian Union.
Loliem has a mix of the rolling hills of the Western Ghats, a slice of the coast and an interior hilly, plateau region. The 300 acre new IIT Goa campus is expected to come up in a couple of years and is located about 88 km south of the capital city of Panaji.
The interim campus of IIT Goa is located at Goa Engineering College (GEC) at Farmagudi, about 78 km away from the proposed IIT Goa Campus site. The temporary campus is fully equipped with class rooms, laboratories and modern hostel buildings. It is expected to serve the needs of IIT Goa for the first couple of years.
Goa Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar, Deputy Chief Minister, Francis D’Souza, PWD Minister Ramakrishna Dhavlikar, South Goa MP Narendra Sawaikar and Prof. Devang Khakhar, Director, IIT, Mumbai were present on the occasion.

Hydro Engineering College to be set up at Bilaspur in Himachal Pradesh

A memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed here yesterday between the Himachal Pradesh government, NTPC and NHPC for setting up a Hydro Engineering College at Bilaspur in Himachal Pradesh.
Union Health & Family Welfare Minister J. P. Nadda, Minister of State for Power Piyush Goyal, former Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal and State Minister G. S. Bali were among those present on the occasion.
Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Nadda said the college would boost regional development and provide more job opportunities for local educated youth and make available specialized work force to NTPC and NHPC.
He said the institution would help in generation of technical human resources with specialisation in the  specific requirement of hydro power projects.
“This initiative of a specialized engineering college dedicated to hydro engineering would be unique not only to our country but perhaps globally as well,” he added.
Hydro power generation, particularly in the Himalayan region, requires a combination of technical skills spanning different fields of engineering – civil, hydrology, mechanical, electrical engineering, and so on, he said.
Mr Goyal said the college would provide avenues for higher and technical education in the state and youth would not have to go to faraway places for being technically trained and skilled.  
Himachal Pradesh possesses more than 20,000 MW hydropower potential and NTPC and NHPC are engaged in operation and construction of many projects in the State.

UGC initiates special steps to promote enrolment of women in research

The University Grants Commission (UGC) has initiated several measures to promote enrolment of women in Ph.D and M.Phil. courses.
Minister of State for Human Resource Development Mahendra Nath Pandey told the Rajya Sabha in a written reply to a question yesterday that the steps laying down provisions in the UGC (Minimum standards and procedure for award of MPhil/Ph.D.) for relaxing the maximum duration for completion of Ph.D or MPhil. by women candidates by a further two years and one year, respectively; allowing transfer of research data in case of relocation of an M.Phil/Ph.D woman scholar due to marriage or otherwise; and allowing women candidates maternity leave/ childcare leave once in the entire duration of M.Phil./Ph.D for upto 240 days. The regulations are available here.
Mr. Pandey also said that the UGC provides to seven Universities and Deemed to be Universities, set up exclusively for women, engaged in teaching and research activities in the country.
These universities are Sri Padmavati Mahila Vishwavidyalayam, Andhra Pradesh; Bhagat Phool Singh Mahila Vishwavidyalaya, Haryana; Karnataka State Women University, Karnataka; Smt. Nathibai Damodar Thackersey Women’s University, Mumbai;  Mother Teresa Women’s University, Tamil Nadu; Banasthali Vidyapith, Rajasthan; and Avinashilingam Institute for Home Science & Higher Education for Women, Tamil Nadu.
The UGC has an exclusive post-doctoral fellowship scheme for women. The scheme incentivizes talented women to carry out advanced studies and research. The awardees are given fellowship at the rate of Rs. 38,800 per month for the first two years and Rs. 46,500 per month for a further three years.
The number of slots available under this scheme is 100 per year.  The guidelines of the schemes can be seen here.
The UGC is also providing Swami Vivekananda single girl-child fellowship for research in social sciences. Under this fellowship single girl children, who are registered in Ph.D. programme in Social Sciences, are eligible for receiving Rs. 25,000 per month for the initial two years and Rs. 28,000 per month till date of submission of Ph.D thesis or five years, whichever is earlier. The guidelines of the scheme can be seen here.

Cabinet approves amendment in Central Agricultural University Act, 1992

The Union Cabinet yesterday approved the amendment in relevant clauses of the Central Agricultural University Act (CAU), 1992 to include the State of Nagaland under the jurisdiction of CAU, Imphal. 
After inclusion of State of Nagaland under jurisdiction of the Central Agricultural University, Imphal, the College of Veterinary Sciences in Nagaland will produce the much-needed professional manpower in the fields of animal husbandry, which will facilitate socio-economic growth in the region, an official press release said.
The new college will help familiarize the farmers with new techniques, thereby contributing to the production and productivity of domestic animals in the State of Nagaland. 
"The amendment will help the State of Nagaland reap the benefit of the CAU, Manipur, which is established for the entire North Eastern Region," the release added.

Universities' transformative potential needed to combat social inequalities

Vice-President Mohammad Hamid Ansari has said that the transformative potential of universities was most acutely needed in societies like India struggling against societal inequalities and deep-seated prejudices.
Addressing the valedictory function of the centenary celebrations of the University of Mysore here yesterday, he said the university had been contributing to the making of India’s knowledge society.
The genesis of this university lay in the extraordinary vision of two individuals, the then Maharaja of Mysore, Nalvadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar, and Sir M. Visvesvaraya, one of the most brilliant engineering minds that India has produced, he said.
Mr. Ansari noted that it was the first university in India outside of the British governed areas. Today, it has grown into one of India’s largest, providing higher education to about 85,000 students, of which over 10,000 are post-graduate students, he said.
Some 1400 students from 50 foreign countries are also enrolled at the picturesque main campus and various satellite and extension facilities.
“The University has an excellent track record in research, especially in the field of microbiology, and it is no surprise that it has outstanding rankings in the NAAC surveys. Your success, and your reputation as a centre of excellence, is due to the efforts and excellence of the faculty and the hard work of students,” he added.
“In this ‘age of Information’, few would dispute the importance of universities. However, recent events in our own country have shown that there is much confusion about what a university should or should not be,” Mr Ansari said.
The Vice-President said universities can be agents of social justice and mobility. They can foster fraternity and must contribute to social and cultural vitality and building an egalitarian society.
A university that moulds itself only to present demands is one that is not listening to its historians, he added.
Mr. Ansari said universities are also forums of free speech and debate. They can act as both the weather vanes and safety-valves of political dissent and direction. He cautioned that suppression of such discourse only breeds mistrust, and begets social malcontent.

Mukherjee confident Indian universities, institutions reaching top position in world

Indian universities and scientific research institutions have performed well in the QS University Rankings Asia 2016 with five institutions in the top 50 and nine in the top 100 leading President Pranab Mukherjee to express confidence about them capturing top positions in the world.
The President received a report on “State of Indian Universities in the Global Academic Rankings” from O.P. Jindal Global University and the Indian Centre for Academic Rankings and Excellence (ICARE) at Rashtrapati Bhavan yesterday.
Speaking on the occasion, Mr Mukherjee pointed out that while assuming the office of President of India four years ago, he had described education as the alchemy that could bring India its next golden age.
Pursuing the goal of improving the quality of higher education as a constant theme in these four years, he said as a former teacher, he was convinced that if India is to have a place on the high table of international community, it must achieve the highest possible position in the field of education.
The physical infrastructure for higher education in India has increased considerably. However, the importance given to research in Indian universities is still inadequate, Mr Mukherjee said.
Though several of the universities were earlier doing well, not enough data was being provided to ranking agencies. This situation is now changing. Indian universities also lag behind in exchange of faculty and students with foreign universities.
Pointing out that he has taken with him delegations of Vice- Chancellors on almost all State visits, he said the academic interaction these VCs had with their counterparts was the most productive part of the visits.
Among the highlights of the report are the good performance of Indian institutions among the top 350 Universities from across 17 countries in the QS University Rankings Asia 2016.
For the first time in the history of these rankings, all top 10 institutions from India have displayed a positive growth. Nine of these institutions are led by the President as Visitor with the tenth, the University of Calcutta being his alma mater.
In the BRICS Rankings 2016, India continues to hold its position in the top 10 with IISC at Rank No. 6. India has eight institutions in the top 50 which is the same as Russia and one more than Brazil. From 31 institutions in the rankings last year, India has 44 institutions in the top 250 of the QS BRICS Rankings 2016. The University of Delhi has taken a lead by rising from 46 last year to 41 this year.
India is in the Top 10 Research Producing Nations globally. In a decade and a half, India has produced over 1.4 million Research Papers attracting a massive 8.5 million itations (7.4 citations per paper).
During the same period, the Indian scientific community filed 4.6 lakh patent applications. A total of 1,29,481 scientific papers were published by Indian authors in 2015.

New initiatives at Nav Nalanda Mahavihara

The Nav Nalanda Mahavihara (NNM), a deemed university, has undertaken major new initiatives including reprinting of 'Pali Tripitake', steps to bring the relics of Xuan Zang from Patna to Nalanda and online submission of admission forms.
The Pali Tripitaka was compiled for the first time in Devanagari script in 41 volumes by the NNM under the editorship of founder Director Ven. Bhikkhu Jagadish Kashyap.
Well received in the academic world, it remained out of print for more than 30 years. Since it is in great demand even now from scholars as well as learned societies, it was decided to reprint all 41 volumes and to make it available at the earliest, an official press release said.
The NNM has also initiated the process to bring the relics of Master Xuanzang to Xuanzang Memorial Complex. Chinese Pilgrim Ven. Xuan Zang has been student as well as the teacher in the ancient Nalanda University. His relics were received by then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru on January 12, 1957. They have since then been kept in the safe custody of Bihar Museum, Patna.
However, keeping in view the long standing demand from the Buddhist fraternity across the world, the relics would be brought from Patna to Nalanda. the release said.
Buddhist monks and nuns of South East Asian countries as well as Indian students were facing great difficulties and expenses in coming to Nava Nalanda Mahavihara to submit their admission application forms. Therefore, submission of online admission form facility has been initiated from the current academic session, it said.
On finding that no Research Journal has been published so far even after getting the Deemed University status, the new Vice-Chancellor took the initiative for the publication of a Research Journal at the earliest, it said.
As a new initiative, Academic Calendar of NNM was compiled for the first time.
It has also been decided to establish a well-equipped language laboratory, taking into consideration the long pending demand of language students, particularly in Chinese and English departments.
In order to save electric energy and also to create an eco-friendly atmosphere within Mahavihara, initiative has been taken to install solar system in all the three campus of NNM.
The NNM is an attempt to develop a centre of higher studies on the lines of the ancient Nalanda Mahavihara, founded by Kumargupta I of the Gupta dynasty in 5th century CE. The excavated remains at Nalanda of the great monastic-cum-scholastic establishment have got inscribed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO on July 15, 2016.
Located around 88 km from Patna, the capital of Bihar, the site presents a key archaeological evidence of a truly international centre for organised learning. It was patronized by various rulers including King Harshavardhana of Kannauj (7th century CE) and the Pala rulers (8th – 12th century CE) as well as various scholars.

Cabinet approves amendment to Bill for change of name of Rajendra Central Agricultural University

The Union Cabinet yesterday gave its ex-post facto approval for the official amendment to the Rajendra Central Agricultural University Bill, 2015 for change of the institution's name from “Rajendra Central Agricultural University” to “Dr. Rajendra Prasad Central Agricultural University”. 
"Dr. Rajendra Prasad Central Agricultural University, Pusa is to fulfill the desired goal and achieve excellence in teaching and produce the much-needed manpower educated in agriculture and allied sciences. This would help in getting over the shortage of technical manpower and infrastructural facilities and would contribute to the development of agriculture, including animal husbandry, horticulture and fisheries in the region.
"The existing colleges will help familiarise the farmers with new techniques, thereby contributing to the production and productivity of agriculture in the region," an official press release added.

JNU ties up with National Institute of Animal Welfare to conduct courses

The National Institute of Animal Welfare (NIAW) and Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi (JNU) have signed a memorandum of agreement (MoA) to conduct academic programmes that will focus on development of Animal Welfare Sciences.
The MoA was signed here yesterday by JNU Vice-Chancellor, Prof. M Jagdish Kumar, and Joint Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC), Anil Sant. 
The signing ceremony took place in the presence of Minister of Human Resource Development Smriti Irani and Minister of State for Environment, Forest and Climate Change Prakash Javadekar. The Secretaries of the two Ministries were also present on the occasion.
Ms Irani said JNU is a university that has name and credibility in academic activities and launching of this course is a good beginning for expanding its academic activities.
Mr Javadekar said such courses being conducted in countries like Australia and New Zealand will now be available at NIAW campus. It will help in preparing competent manpower to man various posts in zoos, municipalities, slaughter houses and veterinary hospitals. 
MoEFCC has sought JNU as an academic partner to help the institute in developing academic programmes according to national needs and global standards in the field of animal welfare.
The total cost of the project for the first year would be Rs.88 lakh. More than 200 students are expected to be enrolled for diploma and certificate courses in the first year. These courses are aimed at providing a direction to the youth for employment in the sector.
A website for NIAW will be in place, illustrating information on the programmes, resources available and facilities such as animal shelter/ houses, OT Labs, and so on.
The NIAW was set up to meet the education and training needs of the Animal Welfare sector across the country. The Institute had launched short term courses in 2005, which has so far trained more than 1000 personnel, already engaged in Animal Welfare and those handling animals in the formal and non-formal sector.

US, India announce final round of 21st Century Knowledge Initiative Awards

The United States Department of State and India's University Grants Commission (UGC) have announced the eight institutional partnership projects for the fifth and final round of the India-US 21st Century Knowledge Initiative Awards.
The announcement of the awards, formerly known as the Obama-Singh 21st Century Knowledge Initiative, is a continuation of the educational partnership between the US and India, a press release from the US Embassy here said.
The initiative aims to strengthen collaboration and build partnerships between US and Indian institutions of higher education.  Each project will receive an award of up to $190,000 that can be utilized over a three-year period, with the aim of encouraging mutual understanding, educational reform, and economic growth, as well as the development of junior faculty at U.S. and Indian and institutions of higher learning.
The following are the awards
US-led Partnerships:
Clarkson University, NY
Project Title: Air Pollution, Health and Climate in India:  Building Capacities for Health Research and Program Evaluation
Partner Institution: Sri Ramachandra University, Chennai and National Institute for Environmental Health, Indian Council for Medical Research, Bhopal
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Project Title: U.S.-India Partnership:  Improving Water Management, Agricultural Production and Food Security in Drought-Prone Areas
Partner Institution: Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi
Gannon University, PA
Project Title: Partnership for Global Orientation for Teaching Education Advancement for Comprehensive Health Education (Partnership GO TEACH Education)
Partner Institution: Sacred Heart Nursing College, Dindigul
University of South Florida, FL
Project Title: An Indigenous Studies Field School for Global Exchange in Northeast India:  Fostering Educational and Public Health Initiative
Partner Institution: Arunachal Institute of Tribal Studies, Rajiv Gandhi University, Arunachal Pradesh and Research Institute of World’s Ancient Traditions, Cultures and Heritage, Arunachal Pradesh
Indian-led Partnerships:
University of Kashmir, Srinagar
Project Title: Proactive management models for the effects of climate change on the range expansion of invasive species
Partner Institution:  Montana Tech, Butte, MT
Panjab University, Chandigarh
Project Title:  Indo-US Partnership on Green Chemistry/ Engineering and Technologies Education, Research & Outreach for Sustainable Development
Partner Institution:  Florida Polytechnic University, Lakeland, FL
Mangalore University, Karnataka
Project Title: The Fabrication of Nanoparticles based soil condition testing Sensors and development of soil condition monitoring system
Partner Institution:  College of Engineering and Computing, Florida International University, Miami, FL
National Institute of Technology Karnataka, Surathkal
Project Title:  Methanol as a Clean Energy Source for India
Partner Institution:  Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA
To implement this initiative, the Governments of India and the US established a bi-national joint working group (JWG), which provides the final approval for all grants awarded through the US-India 21st Century Knowledge Initiative.  The US is represented by the Department of State and the Government of India is represented by the UGC.

Irani asks UGC to consider Yogic Sciences for NET

Six Central Universities will have full fledged Yoga departments from academic session 2016-17 and the number would be raised to 20 within one year, Union Minister for Human Resource Development Smriti Irani said here yesterday.
These six universities are Hemwati Nandan Bahugana Garhwal University, Uttrakhand (North), Viswa Bharti, West Bengal (East), Central University of Rajasthan (West), Central University of Kerala (South), Indira Gandhi National Tribal University, Amarkantak, Madya Pradesh,(Central) and Manipur University (North East). 
Speaking at a national seminar on yoga, Ms. Irani said the action was in line with recommendations of a panel headed by Prof H R Nagendra, that had suggested various kind of courses ranging from certificate courses to Bachelor’s, Master's and Ph.D.s for yogic sciences. 
Ms. Irani said that academicians should come forward to establish the scientific importance of Yogic Sciences through empirical evidences as has been done by Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kharagpur recently.
She appreciated the efforts of the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) for holding workshops on yoga in various cities across the country and the active participation of Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) in yoga programmes through its 50 regional centres. She said that the Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Ahmedabad, IITs, and National Institutes of Technology (NITs) were also organizing various activities to promote yoga as a way of life. 
The Minister said that, in view of the significant role of yoga to develop all faculties of life, the HRD ministry had taken steps to popularize yoga from school to University level. 
The National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE) has been requested to work for capacity building among teachers for this purpose. She said that the University Grants Commission (UGC) had been asked to consider starting National Eligibility Test (NET) in Yogic Sciences. 
The seminar was also addressed by Mr. Vinay Sheel Oberoi, Secretary Higher Education and Prof Ved Prakash, Chairman UGC. It was attended by Vice-Chancellors of Central Universities, representatives and academicians from institutes of higher learning.
Prof. Nagendra, Chancellor of Swamy Vivekanand Yoga Anusandhana Samsthanam made a presentation on the occasion highlighting yoga as an integral part of life which develops physical, mental, emotional and intellectual faculties of a human being, an official press release added.

MHRD concurs with UGC recommendations on Deemed to be Universities

The Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) has concurred with the recommendations received from the University Grants Commission for amendments to the UGC (Institutions Deemed to be Universities) Regulations, 2010.
The amended regulations are intended to remove subjectivity and bring in more transparency in the processes for establishment and functioning of institutions deemed to be universities (DTBUs), an official press release said.
They seek to maintain the quality of education, to provide more autonomy, and a framework for Government and UGC interface with the institutions, it said.
The release said major changes had been made in the application process, simplifying it and making it more objective. A recurring issue in representations received from industry and educationists has been the length of time taken to process applications, in some cases many years leading to unnecessary pendency and uncertainty. 
Timelines have been assigned at different stages including information seeking by UGC (2 months), submission of reports by the expert committee (3 months) and approval and advice of UGC (1.5 months) and Government decision (2 months). 
The visit of the expert committee, essentially confirmatory of faculty availability and of the quality and infrastructure will be recorded and uploaded on the UGC website within 24 hours, it said.
The release said the regulations provide an impetus to accreditation and other measures of quality. Institutions seeking de novo to apply for Deemed To Be Universities (DTBUs) would need to have the highest NAAC/NBA grading for two cycles or alternatively have the highest NAAC/NBA grading at the time of application and be in the top 20 of the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF). 
Prior to these new amended regulations, the application process  was fraught with uncertainty and opacity, it said.
The release said the regulations have brought in the Letter of Intent (LOI) concept wherein the applicant, society, trust or Section 8 company will set up the institution and indicate its readiness for commencement of the academic operations, as per the plan presented and agreed within three years of the issue of LOI. Similar provisions have been made for off-campuses. 
Recognizing that land is a scare and valuable resource, the land requirement has been modified, to focus on the built-up area. The earlier specifications in acres of land (5-10 acres) have been replaced with the stipulations that the minimum open space should be 40% of the total area, that academic infrastructure should be at least 15,000 sq. m. and that there must be accommodation for students and teachers. 
Institutions under the Choice Based Credit System (CBCS) can have a credit exchange matrix with other UGC-recognized institutions for the benefit of their students. 
Keeping in view the need to maintain academic currency and quality in the new provision, it has been mandated that such institutions will review the syllabus every three years at least. 
The regulations make it mandatory for the institution to have three cells – anti-ragging, anti discrimination and gender sensitization as well as an internal complaints committee for prevention of sexual harassment. There will be barrier free access for specially abled students in all places. There will also be adequate health care facilities for students, staff and faculty within the campus. 
In the context of governance, there would be a Government of India (GoI) nominee on the Board of Management for DTBUs only in case it is controlled by the Central Government or receives more than 50% of its funding from the government. In other cases, the UGC will provide nominees from a panel of names recommended by a search committee of academic experts. 
Under 2010 regulations, the Chancellors could not be a member of the society, trust or Section 8 company and not be a close relative of its President. In the amended regulations this restriction has been removed. 
Industry collaborations and research projects would not need specific approval of the UGC. Nor would it be required for new departments in core subjects for which the institution was established. It has been made mandatory for the DTBU to participate in the National Institutions Ranking Framework (NIRF) and in the Know Your College (KYC) portal and mobile app application. Responding to complaints from students, it has been decided that full fee would only be paid at the time of admission, and not during counseling or pre-admission process. No capitation fees will be allowed. 
The ceiling of six off-campuses has been removed. After 5 years of its establishment, the institution may set up off-campuses provided it has got NAAC ‘A’ accreditation. Similar provisions would apply for off-shore campuses with the additional stipulation that clearance of the MEA and MHA is requested. 

UGC to hold stakeholder consultations on API scheme, teachers' workload

The University Grants Commission (UGC) will invite representatives of teachers from across the country for stakeholder consultations on the academic performance indicator (API) scheme, teachers' workload and related issues.
The Commission will also seek perspectives and suggestions from teachers, for its consideration, an official press release said.
The consultations will be a part of the process of review of the scheme mandated by the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), it said.
The release said the UGC had initiated action on the review by the MHRD of the recent amendment to the UGC (Minimum Qualifications for appointment of teachers and other academic staff in universities and colleges and measures for the maintenance of standards in higher education) Regulations, 2010.
Consequent on its review, the Ministry had issued a direction to the UGC, under Section 20(1) of the UGC Act, 1956, to undertake amendments in the Regulation, indicating that after amendments are carried out, the overall workload of Assistant Professors and Associate Professors/Professors in full employment would remain unchanged. 
The direct teaching-learning hours per week to be devoted by Assistant Professors (16 hours) and Associate Professors/Professors (14 hours) too would remain unchanged, the release added.

Railways sign MoU for Kalpana Chawla Chair on Geospatial Technology

The Ministry of Railways signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) here today for setting up of a ‘Kalpana Chawla Chair’ on Geospatial Technology for Indian Railways at PEC University of Technology, Chandigarh.
The Ministry of Railways signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) here today for setting up of a ‘Kalpana Chawla Chair’ on Geospatial Technology for Indian Railways at PEC University of Technology, Chandigarh.
Speaking on the occasion, Minister of State for Railways Manoj Sinha said updated technology always promises safe railway operation throughout the country and thus in the recent past years the role of technology has been recognized by the Railways to remove technological and engineering related problems.
The MoU was a unique collaboration between the two organizations which will help in developing applications to remove day to day engineering and technological problems and geospatial solutions to Indian Railways, he said, adding that the partnership would ensure smooth functioning of the Railways.
The MoU was signed by Mr V.K.Gupta , Member Engineering Railway Board and Mr Som Mittal, Chairman, Board of Governors, PEC University of Technology, Chandigarh. The function was attended by Railway Board Chairman AK Mittal, Finance Commissioner Sanjay Mookerjee and Hemant Kumar, Member, Mechanical.
Railway Minister Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu had announced in his Budget speech the plan to set up the Chair to promote research in Geo-spatial Technology.
The academic chair is being instituted in memory of late Kalpana Chawla, an Indo–American astronaut and alumnus of PEC during the year 1978-82. To honour her contributions in Aerospace Engineering, Indian Railways decided to institute the academic chair in the area of Geo-spatial Technology in her alma mater.
Indian Railways would provide a corpus of Rs 10 crore to PEC University of Technology towards setting up and to meet the running expenses of the chair. 
The Chair will be headed by Mr V.K.Gupta , Member Engineering , Railway Board as Chairman and Mr Manoj Arora, Director, PEC University of Technology, Chandigarh as co-chairman. The chair will function through a Chair Core Committee (CCC) having members from Railways and PEC.
The objective of the chair was to encourage research activities in Geo-spatial Technology and to strengthen Indian Railways especially Railway projects where use of remote sensing data, global positioning system (GPS) and Geographical information System (GIS) is predominant. This will immensely help Indian Railways to develop in house solutions to the problems which are often outsourced to western countries, an official release said.

Convocation ceremony held at Indian Naval Academy, Ezhimala

As many as 90 cadets were awarded B. Tech. degrees at the convocation ceremony of the 90th Indian Naval Academy Course (INAC) was held at the Indian Naval Academy (INA) at Ezhimala in this district of Kerala. .
Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIMA) Director Ashish Nanda was the chief guest on the occasion.
Rear Admiral MD Suresh, Deputy Commandant and Chief Instructor of the academy and Rear Admiral K S Venugopal, Principal, INA also were present.
The ceremony marked the culmination of an arduous four-year training regimen, where the AICTE-accredited B. Tech degree is run simultaneously with a harsh curriculum of Navy-specific subjects and an intensive outdoor training curriculum. 
The graduating cadets acquired their B. Tech degree in one of three streams -- Applied Electronics and Communication Engineering (AEC), Electronics and Communication Engineering (ECE) or Mechanical Engineering (ME) -- under the aegis of the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.
Prof Nanda, in his convocation speech, congratulated the graduating cadets and their parents. He urged them to be ever curious and inquisitive to learn new things to expand the intellectual horizon and strive to develop a never-say-die attitude to succeed in life.
The chief guest awarded trophies to meritorious cadets. The ‘Chief of the Naval Staff Rolling Trophy’, for the cadet adjudged best in AEC stream was awarded to DCC Shivam Vitthal Jadhav. The ‘Chief of the Naval Staff Rolling Trophy’, for the cadet adjudged best in ECE stream was awarded to SCC Keval Krishan. The ‘Chief of the Naval Staff Rolling Trophy’, for the cadet adjudged best in ME stream was awarded to Cadet Prince Isaac Jacob.

NEET-II (UG) to be held on July 24, online applications to start on May 26

The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) today said that it would start the process of online applications from tomorrow for the National Eligibility Cum Entrance Test-II (UG), 2016 that will be held on July 24 for admission to MBBS and BDS courses.
This is as per the directives of the Supreme Court of India and the ordinances promulgated by the President on May 24 on conduct of NEET, a press release from the CBSE said.
This test will be applicable for admissions to the All India Quota seats, State Government Quota seats where the State Government concerned so opts and private, management, non-resident Indian (NRI) quota in all private medical and dental colleges or any private or deemed university.
The release said that, as per the directives of the Supreme Court of India dated May 9, left out candidates who could not register in AIPMT-2016/NEET-I, candidates who were registered in AIPMT-2016/NEET-I but could not appear in NEET-I and the candidates who were registered in AIPMT-2016/NEET-I and had appeared but have apprehension that they had not prepared well, subject to submission of an undertaking to give up their candidature for NEET-I, can apply to appear for NEET-II.
Detailed information regarding test, syllabus and eligibility criteria will be available here,  where the online applications can also be submitted.
"Candidates may check all the detailed information before submission of application form," the release added.
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