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Government launches VAJRA Scheme

Department of Science and Technology has launched  VAJRA (Visiting Advanced Joint Research) Faculty scheme that enables NRIs and overseas scientific community to participate and contribute to research and development in India.

on 8th January 2017, during the 14th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas Convention, Prime Minister had announced that a new scheme called VAJRA (Visiting Advanced Joint Research) Faculty scheme would be launched by the Department of Science and Technology.

Salient Highlights

The Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB), a Statutory body of the Department of Science and Technology will implement the Scheme.

Under this scheme, foreign researchers abroad of Indian origin or otherwise can collaborate with faculties in public funded Indian institutions. The researchers would receive endowments at par with those in their own countries. They would be given USD 15,000 in the first month of residency and USD 10,000, for the remaining months.

The scheme would promote broad areas of research like energy, health, advance material among others.

Public funded academic institutions and national laboratories will be eligible for hosting the VAJRA Faculty.

The VAJRA faculty can reside in India for a minimum of 1 month and a maximum of 3 months a year.

The applications received from the interested foreign researchers would be evaluated by a Selection Committee of eminent scientists. The Committee will meet twice a year in January and July and make recommendations.

DST

Department of Science & Technology (DST) was established in May 1971 and functions under the ambit of Ministry of Science and Technology. The department functions with an objective of promoting new areas of Science & Technology. It acts as a nodal department for organising, coordinating and promoting S&T related activities in the country. The DST funds scientific projects in India and supports researchers in the country to attend conferences abroad and to conduct experimental works.

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Government announces 30 new Smart Cities

Union Minister for Urban Development and Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation, M. Venkaiah Naidu has announced a new batch of 30 smart cities under Smart City Mission, which was launched on June 25, 2015. 

Salient Highlights

The newly selected cities include Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala,  Naya Raipur in Chhattisgarh, Rajkot in Gujarat, Amravati in Andhra Pradesh, Patna in Bihar, Karimnagar in Telangana, Muzaffarpur in Bihar, Puducherry, Gandhinagar in Gujarat, Srinagar in Jammu and Kashmir, Sagar in Madhya Pradesh, Karnal in Haryana, Satna in Madhya Pradesh, Bengaluru in Karnataka, Shimla in Himachal Pradesh, Dehradun in Uttarakhand, Tirupur in Tamil Nadu, Pimpri Chinchwad in Maharashtra, Bilaspur in Chhattisgarh, Pasighat in Arunachal Pradesh, Jammu in Jammu & Kashmir, Dahod in Gujarat, Tirunelveli, Thootukkudi and Tiruchirapalli in Tamil Nadu, Jhansi in Uttar Pradesh, Aizawl in Mizoram, Allahabad and Aligarh in U.P. and Gangtok in Sikkim.

With the addition of these 30 smart cities, the total cities picked up under the Smart City Mission has reached 90.

The government has selected 30 cities against the available 40 smart city slots to ensure feasible and workable plans that fulfill the aspirations of the citizens.

Out of the 30 cities, 26 had proposed affordable housing projects, 26 had proposed new schools and hospitals and 29 had proposed redesign and development of roads.

The government will further select 10 more cities under smart city mission as 100 cities were supposed to be selected for the Smart Cities Mission in total. The remaining 20 cities that will be contesting for the remaining 10 slots are: Itanagar (Arunachal Pradesh), Biharsharif (Bihar), Diu (Daman & Diu), Silvassa (Dadra and Nager Haveli), Kavaratti (Lakshadweep), Navimumbai, Greater Mumbai and Amaravati (Maharashtra), Imphal (Manipur), Shillong (Meghalaya), Dindigul and Erode(Tamil Nadu), Bidhannagar, Durgapur and Haldia (West Bengal), Meerut,Rai  Bareilly, Ghaziabad, Sharanpur and Rampur (UP).

Total proposed investment for the development of 30 cities is Rs.57,393 crores. It includes Rs.46,879 crores for ensuring core infrastructure and Rs.10,514 crores technology-based solutions for improving governance, service delivery and utilization of infrastructure.

Background

The Smart City Mission is flagship scheme of Union Government that will cover 100 cities and its duration is five years (2015-16 to 2019-20).

The focus of the smart city mission is on sustainable and inclusive development and set examples which can be replicated in other parts of the city and other cities of the country. There are 10 core infrastructure elements viz. adequate water supply; assured electricity supply; sanitation, including solid waste management; efficient urban mobility and public transport; affordable housing, especially for the poor; robust IT connectivity and digitalization; good governance, especially e-Governance and citizen participation; sustainable environment; safety and security of citizens, particularly women, children and the elderly; and health and education.

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Fact Box: Tele-Law Initiative

The Ministry of Law and Justice has launched the ‘Tele-Law’ initiative in collaboration with the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology to provide legal aid services to the marginalized communities and citizens living in rural areas through the Common Service Centres (CSC) at the panchayat level, spread across the country.

Salient Highlights

‘Tele Law initiative would help people to seek legal advice from lawyers with the help of video conferencing facility available at the Common Service Centres (CSC). Apart from the lawyers, law school clinics, District Legal Service Authorities, voluntary service providers and Non-Government Organisations working on legal aid and empowerment can also be connected through the CSCs.

In the initial phase, the initiative will be tested as a pilot project across 500 Common Service Centres (CSC) in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. In this phase, challenges to the initiative would be identified and necessary corrections would be made and would eventually be rolled out across the country in a phased manner.

A new portal called ‘Tele Law’ will be made available across the CSC network to connect the citizens to legal service providers with the help of technology-enabled platforms. The initiative would strengthen access to justice for the marginalized communities.

The government will also put in place a robust monitoring and evaluation system to assess the quality of the legal advice delivered to the people.

Under the initiative, a Para Legal Volunteer (PLV), would be employed in each CSC. The volunteer would serve as the first point of contact for the marginalized communities in the rural areas who will help them understand the legal issues, explain the advice given by lawyers and assist in further action as per the advice of the lawyer.

Around 1000 women Para Legal Volunteers will also be trained under this initiative to provide legal aid services through the CSCs. This is expected to promote women entrepreneurship and empowerment.

Further, the National Legal Service Authority (NALSA) will also provide a panel of lawyers who will provide advice from the state capitals to the applicants in the CSCs through video conferencing.

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