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CCTNS – Digital Police Portal

*Deepak Razdan  i201710606.jpg

CCTNS Digital Police Portal launched to fast-track Criminal Justice System in the Country

As crime continues to grow, and criminals turn tech-savvy, police investigators across States face a tough challenge to bring the law-breakers to justice. The situation is,however, undergoing a revolutionary change. The Digital Police Portal launched by the Government of India as part of the Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems (CCTNS), in August this year, will not only help police sleuths track the criminals fast, but also help the victims seek redress online.

The total IPC crimes in the country increased from 28.51 lakh in 2014 to 29.49 lakh 2015. According to the Union Home Ministry’s latest annual report (2016-17), the share of IPC crimes to total cognizable crimes in percentage terms was 37.2 per cent in 2011, and it increased to 40.3 per cent in 2015. The crime rate, which shows the number of crimes per one lakh population, too increased from 497.9 in 2012 to 581.8 in 2015.

In such a complex scenario, the Digital Police Portal, with its various features, is expected to be a game-changer. The CCTNS portal will provide investigators the complete record history of any criminal from anywhere across the country.

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Equipped with a Google-type Advance Search engine and ability to give analytical reports, the portal is expected to become the backbone of the country’s criminal justice system. For the State Police organisations and investigating agencies like the CBI, IB, ED and NIA, the Digital Police Portal provides a National Database of crime and criminals with facility for 11 searches and 44 reports. This will improve national security and revolutionise the way police works in the country.

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To citizens, the Digital Police Portal offers online facility to register FIRs. There will be initially seven Public Delivery Services in 34 States & UTs, like Person and Address Verification of employees, tenants, nurses etc; permission for hosting Public Events, Lost & Found Articles and Vehicle theft. The portal will turn criminal investigationa completely citizen-friendly affair. The citizens’ reports and requests are forwarded to State and Union Territory Police without loss of time for follow-up action.

In 2004, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) initiated a project named – Common Integrated Police Application (CIPA) as a component of the “Modernization of State Police Forces (MPF)” project, aiming at computerization of crime records in police stations on a stand-alone basis. The need for setting up of a national database of crime records was realized later, and the MHA introduced a Central sector project of Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems (CCTNS) in 2009, with the objective of inter-linking all police Stations under a common application software for the purpose of investigation, policy making, data analytics, research and providing Citizen Services.

The project provided the State Police officials with a platform to enter Crime & Criminal data onto a CCTNS application, which could be accessed any time through State database at State Data Centre as well as at National Database at National Data Centre (NDC). The total approved outlay of the CCTNS project is Rs. 2000 Crore. The Central government provides funds to States and Union Territories towards hardware, CCTNS software, connectivity, system integration, data entry of legacy data, project management manpower and training. The Centre has released to States Rs 1450 crores out of which Rs 1086 crores have been spent by the States and UTs.

At present, the CCTNS software is deployed at 14284 Police Stations out of the 15398 Police Stations covered under the scheme. A total of 13775 Police Stations out of 14284 Police Stations are using this software to enter FIRs 100 per cent. As many as 13439 Police Stations out of the 15398 Police Stations covered by the scheme are already connected and linked with State & National database of Crime and Criminal records. The total number of FIRs registered using CCTNS leapt from less than 1.5 lakhs in March 2014 to about 1.25 crores before June, 2017, registering a jump of almost 100 times. Thirty-four States and UTs have launched their State Citizen Service portals with key services such as reporting a crime, request for verification, permission for events etc. Thirty-five out of 36 States and UTs are sharing data with National Crime and Criminal database. The system has seven crore records for crime and criminal data including 2.5 cr FIR records and legacy data.

The scope of the CCTNS project has been enhanced to integrate the Police data with other pillars of the criminal justice system namely — Courts, Prisons, Prosecution, Forensics and Fingerprints and juvenile homes, and accordingly a new system — “Inter-operable Criminal Justice System (ICJS)” has been developed. The ICJS system has been developed as a dashboard approach with an advance search facility for the purpose of retrieving the desired data from the system. The ICJS project is being monitored by a Working Group chaired by a Supreme Court judge, Mr Justice Madan B. Lokur.

State police organisations and all investigating agencies have been greatly empowered by the Digital Police Portal. The portal provides 11 searches and 44 reports based on CCTNS National database. The advanced search is equipped with high performing search and analytics engine. The advanced search can be carried out in two ways. In the first way of search, the search engine will look for full names entered (for eg. Name and Relative Name) but will get all the records where one or both of these names exist. In the second way of searching, it also fetches records with partial matches and returns all the results.

There are various kinds of filters available on the portal through which data can be sorted and narrowed down. Search can be carried out through Person Name, Person and Relative Name, Person and Act/Section, free text search and exact search on FIR Regd. Number/ Mobile Number/Email. The CCTNS portal will provide investigators the complete record history of any criminal from anywhere across the country.

The software offers Google-type Advance Search engine and analytical reports. Recently, the software was used to trace few mentally challenged women from Tamil Nadu in Uttarakhand and reunited with their families. The CCTNS database will be later linked with the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MORTH) database on vehicle registrations.

The “Advanced Search” allows the user to find crime correlations, crime trends, outliers (anomalies) and crime patterns by having access to CCTNS dashboard.

Since the launch of the Digital Police Portal, citizens have begun registering complaints on the portal, and requests have been made for antecedent verification of persons. The Digital Police Portal is helping the Government in the efficient delivery of citizen-centric services in a friendly manner, which is an important responsibility of a modern welfare state today.

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*Deepak Razdan, is a senior journalist and at present Editorial Consultant, The Statesman, New Delhi.

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Paradigm shift in Governance

Dilip Kumar Bisoi* i20179701.jpg

The Nation has witnessed a paradigm shift in governance in the three years of Narendra Modi Government. Policy statements laced with highly reformative decisions have changed the mood of the nation for development and growth. Prime Minister Modi has pushed through a slew of reforms to bail out the country’s economy from a state of policy paralysis.

The NDA government inherited a baggage of low growth rate, high inflation and apathetic governance. With exports moving in south directions, industrial output almost stagnated.

The Prime Minister set the tone for the development and growth by announcing programmes like Make-in-India, Start-up India, Skill Development, MUDRA, PM Jan Dhan Yojana, JAM, DBT and many more.

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To support these initiatives, he put in place the required policies and reforms. The decision of demonetization and amnesty scheme to flush out black money helped in cleansing the economy to some extent. The creation of NITI Ayog in place of outdated Planning Commission is in line with the new demands and aspirations of a young nation and “New India”.

The historic indirect tax reform, the boldest step since Independence, came with the introduction of GST (Goods & Services Tax) in mid-night of June 30 and July 1, 2017. The GST regime put the countrymen under “One Nation One Tax” administration. The reform is aimed at bringing in transparency in taxation with an ultimate goal of safeguarding the interest of the consumers as well as the business and industries.

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The indirect tax reform decision, supported by all the states in the country including Jammu & Kashmir, was hailed by many countries world over. The signals from first month of GST implementation show a promising trend and bright economic future for the nation.

Meanwhile, the Modi government has achieved thunderous success so far as implementation of Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) policy is concerned. Particularly, the DBT introduced for cooking gas proved to be the biggest DBT scheme in the world. Nearly 15 crore cooking gas consumers have come under the DBT known as PAHAL which has been acknowledged by Guinness Book of World Records. The DBT has saved over Rs56,000 crore government money from leakage.  The NDA government is now proposing to introduce DBT for fertilizer and kerosene subsidies on pilot basis.

The UPA policy of retrospective taxation and the stagnation in further opening up of sectors, spoiled the environment for Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) in the country. Soon after coming to power, the NDA government announced that the retrospective taxation case would be considered case by case in a bid to assuage the feelings of the foreign investors.  It liberalized the FDI policy and announced a slew of decisions to attract off-shore investments in sectors like insurance, railways, defence, retail marketing.

The union finance minister, Arun Jaitley, in his budget speech, announced that FDI in insurance will be automatically allowed upward the sectoral cap of 49%. He also allowed more than 50% FDI in defense. Not only that most of the railways sector was opened for 100% FDI vide DIPP Press Note8 (2014), issued on 8/27/2014. Similarly, the DIPP Press Note 12 removed almost all restrictions on FDI in construction.

Removing restriction on foreign investment in single brand retail, the Centre allowed FDI up to 100% via the government approval route, but requires that 30% of goods sold in the first 5 years be manufactured in India. This period is tolled 3 years for ‘cutting edge’ technology. The Government also allowed more than 50% foreign investment in direct retail e-commerce with a rider that  FDI is not allowed in business-to-consumer e-commerce, unless items are all being sold under a single brand and meet local-content requirements.

The NDA government has put the fuel pricing reforms on fast track. Following the deregulation of petrol prices, the diesel prices were deregulated from October 18, 2014. So also the natural gas pricing.

Realizing that the mining sector plays a key role in propelling growth, the Modi government put in place laws and policies for development of the sector. The MMDR Act was amended to bring in transparency in leasing out non-coal major minerals. It also opened the coal mining sector to private and foreign investments by a legislation Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Act, 2015 on March 20, 2015. The transparent e-auction in mining sector has fetched government a huge revenue also.

Similarly, changes were brought in the policies to conduct the telecom spectrums in a transparent way. India has now conducted multiple free and fair telecom auctions with no complaints from stake-holders.

As part of ease of doing business, the government extended the expiration date of industrial licenses. DIPP issued an order on December 20, 2014, increasing the maximum validity of an industrial license from two years to seven years. Removing sectoral investment limit, the government on April 10, 2015 removed the last 20 products from the reserved list

The government has also recently enacted bankruptcy laws to make it easy for the companies to go for liquidations.

Modi government has several reform initiatives in its agenda. Now further reforms in subsidies expenditures is the top priority of the government. Reform is a long term and continuous process. The real dividend of the reform processes that have already initiated is expected to come in the next two years.

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* Dilip Kumar Bisoi is a Senior Journalist and Columnist. Presently working as the Editor of Odia daily ‘The Samay’.

India on Way to Change the Course Correction in Planning and Governance

*Rajendra Bora i201782301.jpg

After a tryst with destiny 70 years back India is said to have now finally arrived at a take off stage to achieve the dreams and aspirations of its people. The nation is witnessing an upsurge of youth power bubbling with enthusiasm and confidence.

It is not out of context to state here that the present government at the Centre got elected on a massive mandate from electorate consisting in abundance of young, mostly first time, voters.

India has traversed a long way since the attainment of independence. The leadership of the party which guided the destiny of the nation for a number of electoral terms was obviously inclined towards socialism and adopted a model of planned development pursuing mixed economy with huge state sector investment. But the state machinery was not equipped and even prepared to own the mammoth task.

State intervention was needed and it initially paid dividends because we could not do without it as the big investments were not possible from private sector. We witnessed the first decade of independent India as full of hope and aspiration for change in socio economic situations that has been stagnant for historic reasons. There was superb enthusiasm and confidence among the people of the new republic that they would change their destiny. However, the following decades proved to be the period of disillusionments. Despite the country pumping in huge public money we found, by the turn of the century, it was complete shattering of hopes as the system started showing it’s rotten state.

For a long time state sponsored economy kept the market based economy at bay. But for the first time in all these long years we are witnessing a course correction after the last elections sent a party to govern with huge electoral mandate.

Unlike its predecessors, the NDA government has no inhibition or compulsion to follow the beaten path and is using the bulging market economy for the benefit of rising the standard of living of the masses, particularly of the poorest of the poor.

The government at the centre, headed by Narendra Modi, is showing a determination and vigour in taking decisions and implementing them, including the latest one of GST. The whole model of subsidies has been changed to transfer financial help directly to the beneficiaries in their bank accounts.

With the clarion call of ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas‘(Together with all, development for all) and ‘Minimum Government and Maximum Governance’ as policy initiatives the present government, headed by Narendra Modi, has established itself a doer.

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Of all the policy initiatives taken by the government, the Goods and Services Tax (GST) is the most transformative and impactful reform GST aiming at making India a common market with common tax rates.

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Replacing the leaky and inefficient welfare delivery system with the cash transfer model has been adopted using direct benefit transfer (DBT) pilots with the JAM (Jan Dhan, Aadhaar, Mobile) as its foundation.

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This initiative is natural corollary of the ambitious ‘Make in India’ which aims at making the country a global manufacturing hub. ‘Make in India’ initiative encourages both multinational as well as domestic companies to manufacture their products in India and the transparent and efficient tax collection system would make it realise.

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Similarly ‘Skill India’ wants to make India a skilled country targeting skill development training to over 500 million youth by the year 2022.

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Coupled with this the flagship ‘Digital India’ programme has already started transforming the country into a digitally empowered society and knowledge economy by bringing in digital infrastructure, creating digital empowerment and delivering governance and services through digital means. That brings transparency and efficient governance.

Start-up India’, ‘Stand-up India’ is aiming at young entrepreneurs to become self-employed. The scheme was launched to give a boost to entrepreneurship and job creation. The policy initiative promotes bank financing for start-up ventures.

The Prime Minister has rightly commented recently that “the pace at which people are taking to digital technology defies our stereotypes of age, education, language and income.” 

For the first time a sustained and effective effort is made against corruption which pervaded not only the state machinery but in politics too.

The battle against corruption has already started cleansing the rotten system it inherited. The Prime Minister is not only asserting that boldness is required to drive the corruption out of the system but adopting a bold approach indeed defying the preachers of doom. A robust boldness is evident in the functioning of the present government breaking the inertia.

Election driven development schemes, wrapped in rigid bureaucratic framework, are now slowly but certainly being replaced with people’s participation. Young generation of the 21st century is now aspiring for finding its national identity too as a powerful and competing country in the world. Majority of Indians are now asserting that they be counted and are not in a mood of compromise. We may call it self-confidence.

The country is preparing to celebrate Independence Day with greater hopes and aspirations with full of confidence not witnessed for a long time.

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*The author is a senior journalist with experience of more than 40 years of journalism. Has served in the Press Trust of India for over 26 years in various capacities including the Chief of Bureau, Rajasthan.

India in Fast Motion

*Ramesh K Arora i201782106.jpg

During the initial years after country’s independence, the Government of the day had three major challenges to meet – managing the massive refugee crises and the consequent re-settlement of lakhs of people; integration of more than 560 princely states into one strong nation; and promulgation of the Indian Constitution which laid the foundation of political democracy and socio-economic justice. With this, the planning system adopted by the country, facilitated the development of infrastructure for promoting science, technology, power, agriculture, industry, roads, irrigation and other segments of development. The state, including the Central and State governments, performed a key role in guiding and controlling the process of socio-economic change. However, a radical transformation of Indian economy took place in 1991 through the adoption of Liberalization–Privatization–Globalization paradigm. A new era of partnership between the public and the private sectors commenced authentically, heralding faster and less regulated economic development. During the next year (1992), the 73rd and the 74th Constitutional Amendments paved the way for the democratization of urban and rural local governance institutions. In later years, another important reform in strengthening political democracy was promulgated – the introduction of the Right to Information Act, 2005.

In the domain of socio-economic development, there has been an enormous growth of the public sector, despite its erratic performance. Further, there have been numerous schemes and programmes in the realms of urban change, rural transformation, transportation, communication and other sectors of national life. The focus of many programmes has been on the development of backward regions, provision of urban services to rural areas, mitigation of poverty, promotion of agriculture and raising the dignity and status of less privileged sections of society.

The Faster Track after 2014 

After the NDA government came to power in 2014, vigorous initiatives and innovations have been introduced in almost all facets of national life. Narendra Modi’s pro-active foreign policy has augmented India’s prestige and strengthened economic and defence relations at the cross-national level. Besides, massive investment is being made on modernizing India’s defence system. Of late, India’s economic growth has been accelerating consistently, making it the fastest growing economy in the world.

What is most noteworthy in the present regime is the re-vitalization of economic democracy. There has been a massive participation of common people in banking services, employment generation, industrial expansion, business growth, educational transformation and delivery of health services.

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The “Digital India” campaign has become an effective catalyst to ensuring greater transparency, accountability and people’s participation in the governance system. GST is one such upshot of the technological revolution.

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The trinity of JAM (Jaan Dhan Yojana, mobile and Adhaar) has empowered crores of people financially and economically.

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Start-ups and stand-ups have inculcated the spirit of enterprise and self-esteem among young people, women and underprivileged sections of society. Obviously, the socio-economic philosophy of the present government is characterized by the time-honoured dictum of growth with equity. Beti Bachao, Beti Padao is an example of garnering support for gender justice and women empowerment.

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Perhaps the three most important innovations of the Modi government are the Make in India campaign (facilitating even the production of defence equipment and supercomputers), strengthening the spirit of Team India that has given a fillip to deliberative democracy, and the Skill India Mission.

skill-india.jpgDemonetization and GST will eventually be helpful in containing black money, although many more systematic efforts will be required to curb economic crimes and corruption.

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We need to build an India where people are devoted to the performance of their duties and voluntarily conduct themselves honestly in their private and public life.

The Swacchh Bharat Abhiyan of the Modi government is a revolutionary movement in the India of Mahatma Gandhi who proclaimed that “cleanliness is next to godliness”.

logo2.pngFor the success of this and other programmes, people should demonstrate strong civic sense which can be promoted by voluntary social groups, families and educational institutions. India deserves a more responsible society where people do not evade taxes nor violate laws. They must feel a strong bonding with their nation and its governments at various levels. Modi’s “New India” can be constructed only when we have “New Indians” – hard working, sincere, emotionally intelligent, decent, honest and patriotic.

Apart from national defence and internal security, which are the areas that require a more focused attention in the near future?

Perhaps, these would be: multi-dimensional infrastructural development, industrial regeneration, agricultural re-invention, primary health, primary education, digitalization including Artificial Intelligence, non-conventional sources of energy and provision of pure drinking water to all people in all regions. Importantly enough, the Modi government has emphasized and adopted the approach of ‘holistic’ development, thus aptly balancing all significant components of nation building.

Every Indian citizen, irrespective of religion, caste, region and political affiliation, should contribute to making India a great nation. We truly need to ensure that there is “Sab ka Saath, Sab ka Vikas”.

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* Author is Chairman, Management Development Academy, Jaipur.

Swachhta Pakhwada in MeitY: Striving towards building a ‘Swachh Digital India’

4597 *P. P. Chaudhary

On 2nd October 2014, Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi gave the clarion call of Swachh Bharat to the nation. Swachh Bharat Mission was never merely meant be a Government programme. It was the inception of a revolution; a revolution with the potential to transform our nation.

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This year, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) organized the Swachhta Pakhwada program from 1st August -15th August 2017. Keeping in tune with the Prime Minister’s unflinching support to India’s commitments to COP-21, a 200 kW roof-top solar system was installed on the roof of the Ministry Office in New Delhi for the creation of clean and green energy.

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In line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s focus of cooperative federalism, the current edition of Swachhta Pakhwada was not just restricted to the offices of the Ministry in the National Capital but was being organised across all the offices of various Societies and Institutions under the ambit of MeitY. From Srinagar to Thiruvananthapuram and from Jodhpur to Guwahati, wholehearted participation was witnessed across these Organisations during the Swachhta Pakhwada.

With the expansion of Digital India programme, a tremendous rise in generation of electronic waste (e-waste) has been witnessed in the country. During the Swachhta Pakhwada, several programs were organised with a view to addressing the challenge of increasing e-waste in the country. I firmly believe that technology can play a pivotal role in creating a Swachh Bharat and MeitY is committed towards contributing for the same.

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The phenomenal rise in penetration of digital technologies in the country has also led to a spike in the cases of malware attacks, viruses etc. Through its initiatives such as m-Kavach, USB-Pratirodh, Cyber Swachhta Kendra and many more, various entities of MeitY such as Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (CDAC), Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) etc. have been proactively working to achieve the mission of creating a Swachh Digital India. During the Swachhta Pakhwada, citizens were apprised of these initiatives undertaken by the Ministry to robustly secure their computing systems.

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I would like to extend heartiest greetings to all my friends working in different offices of the Ministry spread across the country for making this initiative a grand success. These men and women are the true change agents for the country whose arduous efforts towards creating a Digital India & a Swachh Bharat are indeed laudable and extremely inspiring.

A clean India can never be created unless each and every one of its 125 crore citizens makes Swachh Bharat an abiding philosophy in their lives.  This edition of Swachhta Pakhwada might be over but the Swachhta Abhiyan shall continue on a mission mode till we fulfill Mahatma Gandhi’s dream of creating a clean India.

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* The Author is Union Minister of State for Law & Justice, Electronics & IT

 

Welfare of the Soldiers

Ranjit Kumar*  i201751703.jpg

Man behind the machine must also be well oiled. This has been the mission of the NDA government since last three years. When weapon systems and equipments worth millions of dollars are acquired, Jawans and Officers taking care of them for their effective use during combat, must also be hale and hearty. Ever since the NDA government assumed power, Government not only announced steep hike in pay and allowances and pensions but also took various measures to make their life easier. The nation cannot win a war if the fighting men are not assured of their welfare. A disgruntled soldier cannot be expected to sacrifice his life for the nation. Hence the NDA government has been talking and taking huge significant steps to keep their morale high.

The biggest decision of accepting, for which the soldiers were agitating for the last four decades, One Rank One Pension (OROP) was announced by the government on 7 November, 2015 which will cost the government exchequer around Rs 8000 crores every year.

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This has ensured that pension anomaly that existed among defence services personnel of the same rank, having the same number of years in service is rectified. Till 30 November last year, under first installment and lump sum payments 19,64,350 personnel were paid Rs 3,985.65 crores. In the second installment 15,46,857 personnel were disbursed Rs 2281.63 crores.

Further the government notified the acceptance of the recommendations of the 7Th Central Pay Commission recommendation on 3rd May, 2017. This will result in hefty hike in pay and allowances of the service personnel .For the first time the commission has substantially hiked the Military Service Pay (MSP) of all service personnel and special allowances given to Naval and Air force personnel deployed in high risk duties.

For the good health of millions of serving and retired ex-servicemen, the governmentECHS-Recruitment-2016.jpg expanded the scope of Employees Contributory Health Scheme (ECHS) by opening more polyclinics and referral hospitals in different parts of the country.  Several measures were taken to provide quality and affordable medicare to ex-servicemen and their dependents. As part of health care reforms, the Ex-Servicemen Contributory Health Scheme (ECHS) has been completely digitized. A total of approximately 50 lakh beneficiaries have been covered under the scheme. As of now the scheme is being run through 28 regional centres and 426 polyclinics. A total of 1445 civil hospitals have been empanelled to provide cashless treatment to ECHS beneficiaries.

In order to empower the women and look after their welfare, the government approved the induction of women in the fighter stream, thereby making them eligible for induction in all branches and streams of the IAF. Under this plan women are being selected as per uniform Qualitative Requirements at par with male counterparts. Besides, uniform QRs were also applied to both women and short service commission officers for grant of permanent commission irrespective of gender.

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Avani Chaturvedi, Bhawana Kanth and Mohana Singh on 18 June 2016 were commissioned as India’s first three women fighter pilots

18 June, 2016 was the historic day for the Indian women, when three women fighter pilots of the IAF were commissioned at Dundigal. With this, India joined a select band of nations that have women fighter pilots.

As part of the PM’s ‘Digital India’ initiative, digitization of the recruitment process of Army personnel and Communication Networks have been undertaken in full earnest. A special software system –Army Record Officers Process Automation (ARPAN) 2.0, was launched. This has enabled more than 12 lakh junior commissioned officer and jawans to access their service records and employment details online.

From July 01, 2015, Army recruitment has also gone online. A new website of theCapture.JPG Directorate General of Recruitment has been launched for selection of officers, JCOs and Other Ranks. Candidates from all over India can now have access to information about career options in the Army, make suitable choices and apply online.

To provide better and comprehensive care to the army veterans the Army set up the Directorate of Indian Army Veterans (DIAV) on 14 Jan, 2016 at Delhi Cantt. The Directorate will provide a wide range of veteran care and support services and will act as a single point of contact for redressal of complaints of veterans, widows and their wards. The inauguration of the new Directorate coincided with the first ever celebration of Veterans Day.

For the benefit of millions of ex-servicemen and their family members the Defence ministry also set up a Pilot Project of the Army Skill Training Center on 22nd August, 2016.

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Union minister Shri Rajiv Pratap Rudy lighting the lamp at the inauguration of the Army Skill Training Centre (ASTC), in New Delhi on August 22, 2016

With the inauguration of this Center, the Indian Army has embarked on a new mission by bringing Army spouses and wards into the folds of the skilling landscape.

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Army personnel and their spouse and wards who attend training at ASTC will receive skill certificate from NSDC and will become eligible for employment or entrepreneurship under Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojna scheme.

In view of the hardships and long separation of Jawans from their families while serving in forward and high altitude areas, the Ministry took steps to expedite the Married Accommodation Project (MAP) for Armed Forces personnel on priority basis. This will provide nearly 2 lakh dwelling units for the married personnel near their places of posting. The third and final phase of MAP is under implementation for 71,000 more dwelling units.

*Author is a senior journalist.

Digital India for Inclusive Growth and Sustainable Development

Ratnadeep Banerji*  i201751201.jpg

Cashless society is not a new found phenomenon. Decades back, India craved for it with plastic cards. The worldwide trend is to relegate cash transaction and India is not an island. Indian government has been facilitating this trend with a number of schemes and retro-measures. To weed out black money and corruption from public life, Government has been leveraging digital transaction ecosystem. By December 2017 all government agencies would adopt digital way of transacting to ensure inclusive growth.

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Digital India consists of three core components of creation of digital infrastructure, delivery of services digitally and digital literacy. Digital India is not only transforming India but also helping to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals Agenda 2030.

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Government’s priority in 2017 is three pronged. The first priority is to address poverty. The second priority stands over industry, innovation and infrastructure and the third priority is to bring in partnerships.

Between Nov 2016 and Feb 2017, there have been 3264 million digital transactions.

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20 million people and 718,000 shopkeepers got trained through DigiDhan Melas. By 2020, digital payments will reach 45% of retail transactions and the digital payment ecosystem is estimated at 3.3 trillion Rs or 3.3 hundred thousand crore Rs.

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The Government of India’s mission for digital and financial inclusion is being supported by business organization associations like Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, FICCI and even International Chamber of Commerce.

Financial inclusion is expanding. Digital India is giving thrust to affordable devices, internet access and digital literacy. P.P. Chaudhary, Minister of State, Ministry Law & Justice, Electronics & Information Technology, points out at the last two years showing a three-fold increase in the number of e-transactions and the government is aiming to connect 90 per cent of India with internet services by 2018. The combination of Aadhaar aadhar-1-638with Jan Dhan and access to finance is proving people-friendly. India’s smartphone share of internet traffic is expected to reach 46% by 2018. Since 2014, mobile phone users have increased 1.5 times standing at 1080 million. Even more impressive is the 1.9 times increase of internet users since 2014. And the number of Aadhar Cards has increased 1.8 times since 2014 standing at 1110 million now.

The second priority has three thrust areas of enabling fintech innovation, investing in internet infrastructure and at the same time focus on electronic manufacturing of mobile phones, ATMs and PoS. Mobile handset manufacturing has seen a stupendous spurt of 185% since 2014. India’s internet penetration stands at 365 with 3-5 million users getting added every month and thus the total number of internet users can be conjectured to reach 730 million by 2020. Under BharatNet, India has already achieved the laying of 1,77,144 kms of fibre connecting 78,220 villages against a target of 2.5 village panchayats, up from 59 villages in 2014 May.

A ‘Digital First’ budget of 10,000 crores has been declared as investment outlay for BharatNet program to ensure that the backend network is transaction-ready. 150,000 access points is the targeted number of villages to be connected through WiFi Hotspots and access to digital services. Ramesh Abhishek, Secretary, Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), Government of India emphasizes that digital economy is critical for India to make government services and welfare benefits accessible to remote areas of the country seamlessly and to provide last-mile connectivity in far-flung areas and the government has expedited the process of connecting all these 150000 gram panchayats with broadband services. A whopping subsidy of 745 crores, under Modified Incentive Package and Electronics Development Fund has been laid for electronic manufacturing.

The third priority is encouraging PPP models for infrastructure expansion, cross-sectoral knowledge sharing and India to provide world-leadership in infrastructure investment and technology transfers.

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National Digital Literacy Mission (NDLM) also called Digital Saksharta Abhiyan (DISHA) initiated with the vision to make at least one person in every family digitally literate with digital literacy skills by 2020 and provide digital literacy to 6 crore rural households, including Anganwadi and ASHA workers and authorized ration dealers across the country. So far, 8.2 million people have been trained to use digital devices and services and further leverage it to improve livelihoods and access e-governance.

In order to take the benefits of Digital India to every corner of country, a vast network of more than 2.5 lakh Common Services Centers have been created, expanding from 83,000 CSCs in May, 2014.csc_logo.png

This has developed digital entrepreneurs among poor, marginalized, dalits and women of India. More than 34,000 women are working in these CSCs that provide digital services like ticket booking, telemedicine, Jan Aushadhi and Aadhaar service to people.

Our Minister, P.P. Chaudhary feels, it’s important to leverage technology to enhance quality of education and healthcare and content in Indic languages could be a game changer. India is expected to have over 650 million Indians connected to the internet by 2020. There is an urgent need to make the internet content more useful for Indians, many of whom do not speak English. FICCI along with internet stakeholders is setting up the Indian Language Internet Alliance to work with stakeholders across government, publishers and technology companies to build capacities of Indic publishing ecosystem and develop local language content of internet in India.

Now, over 82% Indians can access telecommunication services in the country. Also for a smooth transition to Industry 4.0 and smart manufacturing, the government is working on a policy, which addresses issues such as data security, data storage and privacy. DigiGaon initiative is on the cards for ushering telemedicine, education and skills.

*Author is a senior journalist and a radio documentary maker.

NSS: An Opportunity for Youth to Contribute in Nation Building

Alok Deshwal*

National Service Scheme (NSS) was introduced in 1969 with the primary objective of developing the personality and character of the student youth through voluntary community service. Initially it was launched in 37 Universities involving about 40,000 volunteers. However, with the passage of time and as a Pan Indian programme, the number of educational institutions covered under NSS has been increasing year after year. Currently more than 36.5 lakh volunteers are enrolled in 39,695 NSS units spread over 391 Universities/ +2 Councils, 16,278 Colleges and Technical Institutions and 12,483 Senior Secondary Schools. Since its inception, over 4.78 crore students have benefited from NSS.

Each NSS volunteer is required to put in minimum 120 hours of service per year for two years, i.e., total 240 hours. This work is undertaken in villages/ slums adopted by NSS unit or in school/ college campuses. usually after study hours or during weekends/ vacations. Besides, Each NSS unit organises a Special Camp of 7 days’ duration in adopted villages or urban slums during vacations, with some specific projects, by involving the local communities. Each volunteer is required to participate in the Special Camp once during the 2-year period. Thus, about 50 percent of the NSS volunteers in a Unit participate in a particular Special Camp.

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NSS units can take up any activity that has relevant to the community. The activities continue to evolve in response to the needs of the community. The core activities could be in the field of education and literacy, health, family welfare and nutrition, sanitation and cleanliness, environment conservation, social service programmes, programmes for improving status of women, production-oriented programmes, disaster relief and rehabilitation, campaigning against social evils, creating awareness about Flagship Programmes of the Government like Digital India, Skill India, Promotion of Yoga etc.

NSS is a Central government programme. yet the Central government, the States/UTs and the Educational Institutions are the 3 pillars of this Programme.   It would have been impossible to effectively run a programme directly from the Union Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, dealing with over 29,000 educational institutions across the country. The implementation of the programme has been possible due to effective collaboration/ partnership between the Centre and the States on the one hand and the States and Educational Institutions on the other.

As mentioned earlier, NSS was introduced with the primary objective of developing the personality and character of the student youth through voluntary community service. ‘Education through Service’ is the purpose of the NSS. The ideological orientation of the NSS is inspired by the ideals of Mahatma Gandhi. Very appropriately, the motto of NSS is NOT ME, BUT YOU”. An NSS volunteer places the ‘community’ before ‘self’. This is part of the third dimension of education, namely, value education, which is becoming increasingly important.

NSS volunteers have been making very valuable contribution to the Society, besides developing their own personality. During the previous year, NSS units organised 12,628 special camps in adopted villages/ slums across the country. NSS volunteers undertook 91 lakh volunteer-hours of Shramadaan, donated 1.98 lakh units of blood and planted over 13.27 lakh saplings. The volunteers were instrumental in organising about 7,051 Health, Eye and Immunization camps and also 30,011 awareness programmes through rallies and campaigns on various important government programmes and social issues. NSS volunteers facilitated pulse polio immunization of about 6 lakh children. The volunteers have been playing key role in Swachh Bharat Mission, spreading digital literacy and in popularization of Yoga. On the occasion of International Day of Yoga last year, about 11.19 lakh NSS volunteers participated in yoga programmes across the country.

Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports is committed to expand NSS in a big way. So far, the NSS covers less than 10% of the students eligible to join it. Efforts are being made to increase funding support for NSS and meanwhile, setting up of Self-Financing Units of NSS has also been permitted. To encourage students to take up NSS, UGC has issued an Advisory to all Universities to introduce NSS as an Elective subject with credits. The Ministry has been rewarding good work done by NSS volunteers by conferring Annual NSS Awards at national level, by providing opportunities to NSS volunteers to participate in Republic Day Parade, International Youth Delegations, Adventure Camps, etc.

While a lot of good work is being done under NSS, there is potential to do much more. The students and NSS volunteers are young Indians and they represent the most dynamic and vibrant section of the Society.  These are exciting times in India.  The Government of India, under the dynamic leadership of Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi has embarked on the mission of building a united, strong and modern India – “Ek Bharat, Shreshtha Bharat”, following the principle of “Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas”.  A number of path-breaking initiatives have been taken. ‘Make in India’ campaign has been launched to develop India as a global manufacturing hub. ‘Digital India’ initiative seeks to transform India into a digitally empowered society and knowledge economy. A nation-wide campaign to promote Digital Payments is underway. ‘Skill India’ has being launched to impart necessary skills to prepare Indians for the opportunities in Indian economy as also the opportunities abroad.

A number of initiatives, including Smart Cities Project, have been launched for developing infrastructure. ‘Swachh Bharat Mission’ and ‘Clean Ganga’ Mission have been launched for building a clean and green India.  A sustained and determined campaign is underway to eliminate the black money and to clean up our Society. NSS volunteers can be contributors as well as beneficiaries of these initiatives.  The programme design of NSS needs to constantly evolve to reflect the priorities of the Government and the nation.

The importance of NSS was underlined in an Evaluation Study conducted through Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS). In their Study Report, TISS concluded that NSS has been a well-intentioned and an ideologically motivated scheme of the Government of India and that NSS is one of the greatest experiments in the field of youth work in the world. In fact, TISS recommended that NSS should be made mandatory for all public and private funded universities, colleges and institutions and should be integrated as part of the curriculum.

*Jt. Director(M&C), PIB, New Delhi

Marching towards Cashless India

Bharat QR Code , BHIM and many more Apps for digital payment

*PRAKASH CHAWLA  i201722201.jpg

Well before the November 9 demonetisation of high denomination notes, banks in sync with the Reserve Bank of India had been working on development of different technology- based solutions for electronic transfer of money. There were already systems available in the banks through which one could transfer funds from one bank or branch to the other, in a matter of a few hours.

That itself was a good facility replacing quite fast the age-old money transfer through cheques which had to be, first received by the beneficiary, then deposited in the branch, sent for clearing before the funds get transferred in the designated account. It is not that the cheques have gone altogether; but their usage is dropping rapidly.

All these measures were underway even before November 9, but the sense of urgency was a missing link. Besides, different payment networks did not seem to be in perfect coordination while electronic payments for the sale of merchandise and services were restricted to credit or debit cards used either through lap tops or the limited point of sale (POS) machines available with the traders or the service providers. There was no sense of urgency, because there was no tearing necessity.

But the withdrawal of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes, accounting for 85 per cent of the currency value in circulation brought in a sheer necessity for an effective and urgent alternative to cash.

The fact that Prime Minister Mr Narendra Modi made a commitment about making Indian society less cash dependent in his drive to clean up the economy from the scourge of black money and corruption, put the entire regulatory, operational and policy- making machinery into top gear with the result that within four months, not one but several e-payment options have been developed, tested and launched. They can all be used through the low cost smart phones. The best thing about these Apps is that they are targeted largely at the excluded strata and would be catalytic in the world’s biggest financial inclusion programme.

After the launch of BHIM – App, the latest is Bharat QR Code which works on the model of Paytm wherein the customer scans the QR code of the merchandise and then transfers the money from his/her wallet.

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The only difference with Bharat QR Code is that just as BHIM, the customers at the merchandise point does not have to create and then draw money from the wallet. The funds are directly transferred from the customer’s account and transferred instantly to that of the merchant or service provider. Unlike credit or debit cards used at the points of sales, there are no charges involved. There is an ease of using App with no cost. As far as the integrity and safety of the system is concerned, the RBI is giving assurance about it.

“Our systems are not only comparable to any system anywhere in the world, our systems also do set standards and good practices for the world to follow. We remain vigilant for ensuring safety and soundness of the payment systems and are committed to customer safety and convenience,” according to Mr. R Gandhi, Deputy Governor of the RBI.

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What makes the Bharat QR Code unique in the world is low cost, interoperability and an excellent collaborative approach by the payment networks like MasterCard, Visa, National Payment Corporation of India and American Express, which are otherwise fierce competitors.  “India is setting yet another standard in the payment arena for others to adopt,” Mr Gandhi said with a sense of pride at the launch of the new App in Mumbai, on February 20, 2017.

There is a lot more that the RBI is embarking upon for making India a less-cash society. Under the Vision-2018, it is working on a multi-pronged strategy for an effective regulation, robust infrastructure, supervision and customer centric payment architecture that meets the strict requirements of cyber security.

The government had constituted a Committee under the Chairmanship of Mr. Ratan Watal, Principal Adviser, NITI Ayog, to suggest measures for encouraging digital payments.  Having examined the regulatory and legislative framework, the Watal Committee recommended that the Payment and Settlement Systems Act 2007 be amended for a better regulatory governance, competition and innovation, consumer protection, open access, data protection and security, and penalties for offences. Accepting these recommendations, the legislative changes have been brought in the Finance Bill of 2017.

On its part, the NPCI which has been giving big cash awards for use of digital transactions, has so far disbursed over Rs 153 crore to nearly 10 lakh consumers and merchants through Lucky Grahak Yojana and Digi Dhan Vyapar Yojana.  These schemes are meant to make digital payments a mass movement. The response through the incentives has been pretty good with Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Delhi emerging as trend-setters. There has been a good response to the initiative from all sections and age groups. The only challenge would be to ensure that the same enthusiasm is retained after the economy is fully remonetised in the next few weeks. The digital drive must reach its logical end.

*Prakash Chawla is a senior New Delhi-based journalist writing mostly on political-economic issues.

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