Monday, 19 December 2016

Rashtrapati Bhavan Museum

Rashtrapati Bhavan, home to the President of the world’s largest democracy, epitomizes India’s strength, its democratic traditions and secular character.

Rashtrapati Bhavan was the creation of architects of exceptional imagination and masterfulness, Sir Edwin Lutyens and Herbert Baker. It was Sir Lutyens who conceptualized the H shaped building, covering an area of 5 acres on a 330 acre estate. This mansion has a total of 340 rooms spread over four floors, 2.5 kilometres of corridors and 190 acres of garden area.

Painstaking efforts of thousands of labourers including masons, carpenters, artists, carvers, and cutters saw the completion of this masterwork in the year 1929. Originally built as the residence for the Viceroy of India, Viceroy's House as it was then called, has metamorphosed into today’s Rashtrapati Bhavan. From being a symbol of imperial domination and power, it is today emblematic of Indian democracy and its secular, plural and inclusive traditions. Former President of India, Shri R. Venkataraman has rightly said, “Nature and man, rock and architecture, have rarely collaborated to so fine a purpose as in the fashioning of the magnificent Rashtrapati Bhavan.”

When constructed, it was called the Viceroy’s House. The name changed to Government House on August 15, 1947 when India became independent. Finally, its name was changed to Rashtrapati Bhavan during the term of President Dr. Rajendra Prasad.

The Rashtrapati Bhavan has served as a home to Viceroy Lord Irwin and subsequently to other Viceroys of India till Lord Mountbatten, the last British Viceroy and the first Governor-General of independent India in 1947. Lord Mountbatten administered the oath of Prime Minister to Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru under the Central Dome of Rashtrapati Bhavan in 1947. C. Rajagopalachari, the first Indian Governor-General also took oath under the Central Dome on June 21, 1948 and became the first Indian to reside at the Government House, as it was then called.

The grandeur of this majestic presidential palace, however, was humbled by the very modest gestures of Rajagopalachari. Finding the Viceroy’s room too royal to stay, he shifted to smaller rooms (now called the Family Wing of the Rashtrapati Bhavan) for his personal use. This has been followed by all subsequent residents of the Bhavan. The erstwhile Viceroy’s Rooms have been converted into the Guest Wing for stay of Heads of State and Government and their delegations. As the first president of India, Dr. Rajendra Prasad took Rashtrapati Bhavan as his abode in the year 1950 after assuming office.

Little known is the fact that Mahatma Gandhi, much before the political heads of independent India, was an early visitor to the newly constructed Viceroy’s House. The Viceroy had invited him for a meeting which was met with dissent by Winston Churchill. Nevertheless, Mahatma Gandhi carried with him salt to add to his tea as a mark of protest against the British Salt tax. The series of meetings between Mahatma Gandhi and Lord Irwin finally culminated in the famous Gandhi Irwin pact that was signed on March 5, 1931.

Rashtrapati Bhavan has since independence hosted defence investiture ceremonies, swearing in of its leaders, honoured its bravehearts and achievers, has heard the speeches of world leaders, signed pacts and treaties with various countries, celebrated India’s Independence and Republic Day functions along with other festivals.

The gates of Lutyens’ masterpiece Delhi which he described as “one complete organism, perfect and inseparable” have now been opened for the public on the initiative of President Pranab Mukherjee since August, 2012.

The journey through this work of art is divided into three circuits. Circuit 1 covers the Main Building and Central Lawn of Rashtrapati Bhavan including its premier rooms like the Ashok Hall, Durbar Hall, Banquet Hall, its Drawing Rooms and many more. Circuit 2 consists of the tour of the Rashtrapati Bhavan Museum Complex, while Circuit 3 promises the tour of Rashtrapati Bhavan’s famous gardens- The Mughal Gardens, Herbal Garden, Musical Garden and Spiritual Garden.

Whilst the Main Building and Gardens of Rashtrapati Bhavan are open for visits thrice a week, on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, the Rashtrapati Bhavan Museum Complex is open on all days except Monday. The Mughal and other Gardens of the Bhavan shall remain open from August to March on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Timings are from 9 a.m. till 4 p.m.

Tuesday, 13 December 2016


SWAYAM is a programme initiated by Government of India and designed to achieve the three cardinal principles of Education Policy viz., access, equity and quality. The objective of this effort is to take the best teaching learning resources to all, including the most disadvantaged. SWAYAM seeks to bridge the digital divide for students who have hitherto remained untouched by the digital revolution and have not been able to join the mainstream of the knowledge economy.

This is done through an indigenous developed IT platform that facilitates hosting of all the courses, taught in classrooms from 9th class till post-graduation to be accessed by anyone, anywhere at any time. All the courses are interactive, prepared by the best teachers in the country and are available, free of cost to the residents in India. More than 1,000 specially chosen faculty and teachers from across the Country have participated in preparing these courses.
The courses hosted on SWAYAM will be in 4 quadrants – (1) video lecture, (2) specially prepared reading material that can be downloaded/printed (3) self-assessment tests through tests and quizzes and (4) an online discussion forum for clearing the doubts. Steps have been taken to enrich the learning experience by using audio-video and multi-media and state of the art pedagogy / technology. In order to ensure best quality content are produced and delivered, seven National Coordinators have been appointed: They are NPTEL for engineering, UGC for post-graduation education, CEC for under-graduate education, NCERT & NIOS for school education, IGNOU for out of the school students and IIMB for management studies.

Courses delivered through SWAYAM are available free of cost to the learners, however students wanting certifications shall be registered, shall be offered a certificate on successful completion of the course, with a little fee. At the end of each course, there will be an assessment of the student through proctored examination and the marks/grades secured in this exam could be transferred to the academic record of the students. UGC has already issued the UGC (Credit Framework for online learning courses through SWAYAM) Regulation 2016 advising the Universities to identify courses where credits can be transferred on to the academic record of the students for courses done on SWAYAM.

SWAYAM platform is indigenously developed by Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) and All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) with the help of Microsoft and would be ultimately capable of hosting 2000 courses and 80000 hours of learning: covering school, under-graduate, post-graduate, engineering, law and other professional courses.


Monday, 12 December 2016

Namami Gange programme

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi approved the flagship "Namami Gange" programme which integrates the efforts to clean and protect the Ganga River in a comprehensive manner.

Marking a major shift in implementation, the Government is focusing on involving people living on the banks of the river to attain sustainable results. Drawing from the lesson learned from the previous implementation, the program also focuses on involving the States and grassroots levels institutions such as Urban Local Bodies and Panchayati Raj Institutions in implementation. The program would be implemented by the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG), and its state counterpart organizations i.e., State Program Management Groups (SPMGs). NMCG will also establish field offices wherever necessary.

Why we need "Namami Gange" programme?

  • River Ganga has significant economic, environmental and cultural value in India.
  • Rising in the Himalayas and flowing to the Bay of Bengal, the river traverses a course of more than 2,500 km through the plains of north and eastern India.
  • The Ganga basin - which also extends into parts of Nepal, China and Bangladesh - accounts for 26 per cent of India's landmass.
  • The Ganga also serves as one of India's holiest rivers whose cultural and spiritual significance transcends the boundaries of the basin.

What are the pollution threats to Ganga?

  • Rapidly increasing population, rising standards of living and exponential growth of industrialization and urbanization have exposed water resources to various forms of degradation.
  • The deterioration in the water quality of Ganga impacts the people immediately.
  • Ganga has become unfit even for bathing during lean seasons.
  • The impacts of infrastructural projects in the upper reaches of the river Ganga raise issues.

How "Namami Gange" programme works?

In order to implement "Namami Gange" Programme, a three-tier mechanism has been proposed for project monitoring comprising of:
  • A high-level task force chaired by Cabinet Secretary assisted by NMCG at the national level,
  • State level committee chaired by Chief Secretary assisted by SPMG at the state level and
  • District level committee chaired by the District Magistrate.
"Namami Gange" will focus on pollution abatement interventions namely Interception, diversion & treatment of wastewater flowing through the open drains through bio-remediation/appropriate in-situ treatment/use of innovative technologies/sewage treatment plants (STPs)/effluent treatment plant (ETPs) rehabilitation and augmentation of existing STPs and immediate short-term measures for arresting pollution at exit points on river front to prevent inflow of sewage etc.

Salient features of "Namami Gange" programme

  • Over Rs. 20,000 crore has been sanctioned in the 2014-2015 budget for the next 5 years.
  • Will cover 8 states, 47 towns & 12 rivers under the project.
  • Over 1,632-gram panchayats on the banks of Ganga to be made open defecation-free by 2022.
  • Several ministries are working with nodal Water Resources Ministry for this project includes - Environment, Urban Development, Shipping, Tourism and Rural Development Ministries.
  • Prime focus will be on involving people living on the river's banks in this project.
  • Under the aegis of National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) & State Program Management Groups (SPMGs) States and Urban Local Bodies and Panchayati Raj institutions will be involved in this project.
  • Setting river-centric urban planning process to facilitate better citizen connects, through interventions at Ghats and Riverfronts.
  • Expansion of coverage of sewerage infrastructure in 118 urban habitations on banks of Ganga.
  • Development of rational agricultural practices & efficient irrigation methods.
  • Ganga Knowledge Centre.

Key Functions

To achieve the objectives, NMCG shall carry out the following key functions namely:
  • Implement the work program of National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA).
  • Implement the World Bank supported National Ganga River Basin Project.
  • Coordinate and oversee the implementation of projects sanctioned by Government of India under NGRBA.
  • Undertake any additional work or functions as may be assigned by Ministry of Water Resources, Rural development & GJ in the area of conservation of river Ganga.
  • Make rules and regulations for the conduct of the affairs of the NMCG and add or amend, vary or rescind them from time to time.
  • Accept or to provide any grant of money, loan securities or property of any kind and to undertake and accept the management of any endowment trust, fund or donation not inconsistent with the objectives of NMCG.
  • Take all such action and to enter all such actions as may appear necessary or incidental for the achievements of the objectives of the NGRBA.

Saansad Adarsh Gram Yojana (SAGY)

Saansad Adarsh Gram Yojana(SAGY) was launched on 11th October 2014 with the aim to translate the comprehensive vision of Mahatma Gandhi about an ideal Indian village into reality, keeping in view the present context. Under SAGY, each Member of Parliament adopts a Gram Panchayat and guides its holistic progress giving importance for social development at par with infrastructure. The 'Adarsh Grams' are to become schools of local development and governance, inspiring other Gram Panchayats.
By involving villagers and leveraging scientific tools, a village development plan is prepared under the leadership of Member of Parliament. The distinct feature of this Yojana is that it is:

  • Demand Driven
  • Inspired by Society
  • Based on People's Participation

The main objective of SAGY are:
  • To trigger processes which lead to a holistic development of the identified Gram Panchayats
  • To substantially improve the standard of living and quality of life of all section of the population through -
  • Improved basic amenities
  • Higher productivity
  • Enhanced human development
  • Better livelihood opportunity
  • Reduced disparities
  • Access to right and entitlements
  • Wider social mobilization
  • Enriched social capital
  • To generate models of local level development and effective local government which can motivate and inspire neighboring Gram Panchayats to learn and adapt
  • To nurture the identified Adarsh Grams as schools of local development to train other gram panchayat

Different approach to achieve the objectives of SAGY
  • Leveraging the leadership, capacity, commitment and the energy of the Member of Parliament to develop model Gram Panchayat.
  • Engaging with and mobilizing the community for participatory local level development.
  • Converging different government programs and private and voluntary initiative to achieve comprehensive development in tune with people's aspiration and local potential.
  • Building partner with a voluntary organization, co-operative and academic and research institutions.
  • Focusing on outcomes and sustainability.
  • A Gram panchayat would be the basic unit. It will have a population of 3000-5000 in plain areas and 1000-3000 in the hilly, tribal and difficult area.
  • The MP would be free to identify a suitable Gram Panchayat to be developed as Adarsh Gram, other than his/her own village or that of his/her spouse.
  • The MP will identify one Gram Panchayat to be taken up immediately, and two other to be taken up little later.
  • Lok Sabha MP has to choose a Gram Panchayat from within his/her constituency and Rajya Sabha MP a Gram Panchayat from the rural area of a district of his/her choice in the State from which he/she is elected.

Activities in an Adarsh Gram
An Adarsh Gram should evolve out of people's shared vision, using their capacities and available resources to the best extent possible, duly facilitated by the MP, the Gram Panchayat, civil society and the government machinery. Naturally, the elements of an Adarsh Gram would be contexted specific. However, it is still possible to broadly identify the important activities. They would include:
  • Personal Development
  • Social Development
  • Human Development
  • Economic Development
  • Environmental Development
  • Social Security
  • Basic amenities & services
  • Good Governance
  • The entry point activities to energize and mobilize the community towards positive common action.
  • Participatory planning exercise for identifying peoples' needs and priorities in an integrated manner.
  • Converging resources from Central Sector and Centrally Sponsored Schemes and also other State schemes to the extent possible.
  • Repairing and renovating existing infrastructure to the extent possible.
  • Strengthening the Gram Panchayats and peoples' institutions within them.
  • Promoting transparency and accountability.
Adoption and adaption of technology and introduction of innovation are critical to this program. These would broadly in the following areas:
  • Space application and remote sensing
  • Mobile based technology
  • Agriculture related technology and innovations
  • Livelihood related technologies and innovations
  • Appropriate building construction technologies
  • Road construction technologies
  • Water supply and sanitation related technologies