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Seven Japanese varsities sign MoUs with Jindal Global University



Tokyo, April 29 (IANS) A senior delegation from India led by the Founding Vice Chancellor of O.P. Jindal Global University (JGU), Prof. (Dr.) C. Raj Kumar, concluded a successful visit to Japan with a view to strengthening and fostering internationalisation of higher education between the two countries.

The delegation, comprising deans and senior faculty members of JGU, was aimed at strengthening academic collaborations, intellectual engagement and cultural exchanges between Indian and Japanese universities.

They visited five Japanese cities — Tokyo, Yamanashi, Kyoto, Osaka and Hiroshima — interacting with the top academics and leadership teams at 14 Japanese universities represented by their respective presidents, deans and other senior leaders including at the University of Tokyo, Temple University Japan, United Nations University, International Christian University, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, Doshisha University and Osaka Gakuin University.

The historic visit culminated in the signing of seven MoUs and Student Mobility Agreements with the following seven leading Japanese universities:

1. University of Yamanashi

2. Yamanashi Gakuin University

3. Hiroshima University

4. Ritsumeikan University

5. Ryukoku University

6. Kwansei Gakuin University

7. Kansai Gaidai University

On the success of the visit to Japan, Prof. (Dr) C. Raj Kumar, said: “Our visit to Japan had five major objectives. First, to introduce the Indian higher education system and universities to the key leaders of Japanese universities and policymakers of Japan; second, to create substantive opportunities for the students and faculty of JGU to collaborate with the leading Japanese universities; third, to build international partnerships with Japanese universities that will promote exchange programmes, joint, dual and pathways degree programmes and short-term study abroad programmes.

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“Fourth, to collaborate with Japanese universities to promote research and scholarship through the advancement of faculty engagement by organising joint conferences and joint lectures leading to joint research projects and publications; and fifth, to promote collaborations among all stakeholders within Japan that includes government agencies, public institutions, private corporations, think tanks and research institutions with a view to establishing a strong intellectual presence and institutional imagination of India in Japan and for Japan in India.”

Prof. Kumar further said: “I had the amazing opportunity to address the Members of Parliament at the Japanese National Parliament. Through our landmark visit to Japan, we have reaffirmed the profound significance of the India-Japan relationship in not only shaping the continuity of historical bilateral ties between the two countries but also ensured meaningful collaboration between JGU and the leading universities in Japan to contribute significantly to global academia.”

He said: “Our collaborations with esteemed Japanese universities not only foster student mobility but also cultivate rich faculty-level engagements, enriching both nations’ academic landscapes and advancing towards a more interconnected world.”

A statement noted that this visit highlights the growing strategic importance of Japan for India in the realm of higher education.

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Renowned for its excellence in innovation and research, Japan boasts world-class universities offering exceptional academic programmes. This makes Japan a highly attractive destination for Indian students seeking international higher education and exposure to cutting-edge advancements across diverse disciplines.

The MoUs and agreements comprise student mobility programmes including short-term study abroad programmes, semester exchange programmes, India immersion programmes for students from Japan to study at JGU, dual degree programmes; and faculty level engagements including joint teaching programmes, joint research projects, joint publications, joint conference and seminars to mention a few.

These initiatives will further strengthen and consolidate the strategic partnership between India and Japan in the higher education sector, the statement noted.

Prof. (Dr.) Akhil Bhardwaj, Associate Dean and Director, Office of International Affairs & Global Initiatives at JGU, said: “As we forge numerous meaningful partnerships with leading Japanese universities, we continue to expand JGU’s rich tapestry of global institutional collaborations.

“These alliances not only enrich the academic landscape at JGU but also provide invaluable opportunities for our students to participate in transformative study abroad programmes in Japan, enhancing their skill sets and enriching their career pursuits. Our commitment to fostering international connections is unwavering, ensuring that every student at JGU is empowered to thrive in an increasingly global community.”

Furthermore, Prof. Kumar delivered a landmark address to a caucus of over 20 distinguished members of the Japanese Parliament (National Diet).

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This address, notably attended by the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, and Science and Technology, Government of Japan, Masahito Moriyama, focused on critical global issues including the SDGs, global governance, India’s national education policy, and more broadly strengthening bilateral relations between the two nations.

Prof. Kumar along with the JGU delegation also had fruitful discussions on advancing India-Japan ties in the field of higher education and research with the Indian Ambassador to Japan, Sibi George and the Consul General of India in Osaka, Nikhilesh Giri.

Prof. Kumar led a high-level faculty delegation from O.P. Jindal Global University to Japan which included Prof. (Dr.) C. Raj Kumar, Vice Chancellor, Prof. (Dr.) Mohan Kumar, Dean, Strategic and International Initiatives, Professor of Diplomatic Practice & Director, Jindal Global Centre for G20 Studies, Professor Kathleen A. Modrowski, Dean, Jindal School of Liberal Arts and Humanities, Professor Padmanabha Ramanujam, Professor of Law & Dean of Academic Governance and Student Life, Professor (Dr.) Upasana Mahanta, Professor of Political Science & Dean, Office of Admissions and Outreach, Professor (Dr.) Vesselin Popovski, Professor of Law & Vice Dean, Jindal Global Law School and Executive Director, Centre for the Study of United Nations, JGU and Professor (Dr.) Akhil Bhardwaj, Associate Professor & Associate Dean and Director, Office of International Affairs & Global Initiatives.



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IndiGo ties up with Garuda to train fresh pilots




New Delhi, June 20 (IANS) Leading low-cost carrier IndiGo has partnered with Garuda Aviation Academy to train fresh pilots as future junior first officers, under the airline’s Cadet Pilot Program.

This is the eighth partnership for cadet pilot program by IndiGo in the last 13 years, the airline said on Thursday.

The 21-month course also includes three-month ground schooling at Garuda Aviation Academy training centre in Gurugram, followed by 12-months of training at 43 Air School in South Africa, which has a track record of training 6,000 plus ab-initio pilots over the years, according to an IndiGo statement.

Over the past 13 years, IndiGo has inducted over 1,000 pilots through these full training programmes, which include commercial pilot license and A320 type rating, the statement added.

Captain Ashim Mittra, IndiGo’s senior vice president-flight operations, said: “This initiative also aligns with the Government of India’s UDAN (Ude Desh ka Aam Nagrik) mission, fortifying our commitment to connecting with smaller and medium-sized towns and cities. At IndiGo, we focus on the personal and professional growth of our pilots.”

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Coal Ministry going for major reforms to ensure responsible mining




New Delhi, June 20 (IANS) The Ministry of Coal on Thursday announced that it has revised the framework of preparation of the Mining Plan, a pivotal step to regulate and advance India’s coal mining sector, and issued draft guidelines for consultation.

These guidelines serve as a strategic blueprint for coal mining companies, facilitating effective planning, execution, and monitoring of mining activities while upholding stringent environmental, social, and safety standards.

The primary objective is to optimise coal resource extraction through sustainable practices that minimise waste and enhance operational efficiency. This strategic approach includes advanced technological integration to streamline operations, thereby achieving environmental and economic sustainability, according to a Ministry statement.

Safety and health measures constitute a cornerstone of the revised guidelines, ensuring the protection of mining personnel and local communities. Robust safety protocols and infrastructure are imperative to safeguard all stakeholders involved in coal mining operations.

The revised draft guidelines also focus on responsible mining practices that bolster the coal industry while prioritising ecosystem preservation.

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This involves mandatory inclusion of restoration, remediation, and regeneration measures in mining plans to ensure sustainable natural resource management.

By minimising environmental impacts, addressing community concerns, and promoting continuous improvement in water quality monitoring, the guidelines aim to foster a more sustainable and ethical approach to coal mining.

Key reforms introduced in the revised draft Mining Plan & Mine Closure Guidelines include:

* Enhanced flexibility for minor modifications in Mining Plans, with major changes requiring approval from the Coal Controller Organisation (CCO).

* Preference for blast-free and continuous coal-cutting technologies in mining methods.

* Implementation of comprehensive Safety Management Plans as per Coal Mines Regulations, 2017, including mandatory safety audits.

* Integration of fly ash filling protocols into mining plans to address related environmental concerns.

* Requirement for drone surveys and processed outputs for comprehensive five-year compliance reports of Mining Plans.

* Inclusion of sand for stowing in mines within revised guidelines.

* Facilitation of mine amalgamation for safer and more efficient operations, including the use of decoaled voids for overburden dumping.

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* Mandatory adoption of conveyor belts or railway transport for coal evacuation, promoting environmental sustainability.

* Requirement for mechanised loading to optimise coal movement from siding to end-users, enhancing operational efficiency and environmental protection.

* Mandatory preparation of Temporary and Final Mine Closure Plans for abandoned or discontinued mines post-2009.



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EPFO adds record 18.92 lakh members in April reflecting rise in jobs




New Delhi, June 20 (IANS) The Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) has added 18.92 lakh net members during April this year which is the highest since the first payroll data was published in April 2018, according to figures released by the Ministry of Labour and Employment on Thursday.

The number of net members added shot up by 31.29 per cent over the corresponding figure for March 2024, the provisional payroll data shows.

The year-on-year analysis reveals a growth of 10 per cent in net member additions compared to April 2023.

This surge in membership can be attributed to increased employment opportunities, a growing awareness of employee benefits, and the effectiveness of EPFO’s outreach programmes, the Ministry said.

The data indicates that around 8.87 lakh new members have enrolled during April 2024.

A noticeable aspect of the data is the dominance of the 18-25 age group, constituting a significant 55.5 per cent of the total new members added in April 2024.

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This is in consonance with the earlier trend which indicates that most individuals joining the organised workforce are youth, primarily first-time job seekers.

According to the payroll data, approximately 14.53 lakh members exited and subsequently rejoined EPFO.

This figure represents a 23.15 per cent increase compared to the previous month of March 2024.

These members switched their jobs and re-joined the establishments covered under the ambit of EPFO and opted to transfer their accumulations instead of applying for final settlement, thus, safeguarding long-term financial well-being and extending their social security protection.

Gender-wise analysis of payroll data unveils that out of 8.87 lakh new members, around 2.49 lakh are new female members.

Also, the net female member addition during the month stood at around 3.91 lakh reflecting an increase of approximately 35.06 per cent compared to the previous month of March 2024.

The surge in female member additions is indicative of a broader shift towards a more inclusive and diverse workforce.

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State-wise analysis of payroll data denotes that net member addition is highest in the five states of Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and Haryana.

These states constitute around 58.3 per cent of net member addition, adding a total of 11.03 lakh net members during the month.

Of all the states, Maharashtra is leading by adding 20.42 per cent of net members during the month.

Besides, out of the total net membership, around 41.41 per cent addition is from expert services (consisting of manpower suppliers, normal contractors, security services, miscellaneous activities etc.)

The payroll data is provisional since the data generation is a continuous exercise, as updating employee record is a continuous process.



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Scarce rain, excessive heat caused fall in tea production in Assam, Bengal: Industry




Guwahati, June 20 (IANS) Insufficient rainfall and excessive heat are hampering production of tea to a great extent during the current cropping season in Assam and West Bengal, industry sources said on Thursday.

Industry body Tea Association of India (TAI) said that the data released by the Tea Board of India indicates a production drop of around 8 per cent in Assam and around 13 per cent in West Bengal up to April this year as against the same period last year.

TAI President Sandeep Singhania said that due to lack of rainfall and high temperature, the tea growing regions of West Bengal and Assam have witnessed significant wilting of tea bushes, which indicated a further crop loss in the coming months.

He said that as reported by the member tea estates of the association, the growers of Assam and West Bengal are estimated to be behind by around 20 per cent and 40 per cent respectively during the month of May as against the same period last year.

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Singhania said that the data published by India Meteorological Department (IMD) for the period from March 1 to May 31 has shown significantly less rainfall in the range of 50 per cent to 80 per cent in the major tea growing districts of West Bengal and 10 per cent to 30 per cent in Assam as against normal rainfall received by the districts in the same period earlier.

Since, tea is a rain-fed crop, not receiving sufficient rain during these important months hampers the production of its premium first flush and second flush during this time and loss of crop during this period will severely affect the cash flows of the companies, the TAI President said.

The much-awaited rainfall was finally received in the tea growing districts of Assam and West Bengal with the southwest monsoon reaching sub-Himalayan West Bengal and northeast India on May 30-31 covering most parts of both the states, nearly a week ahead of schedule.

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The TAI said that post the onset of monsoon, both the states have witnessed profuse rainfall during the first fortnight of the month of June and as per the data released by the IMD, the tea growing districts of West Bengal and Assam have already received 15- 66 per cent and 3-20 per cent more rainfall respectively compared to normal rainfall for the month.

Excessive rainfall coupled with practically no sunshine during the day has again hampered the crop production in both the states.

As reported by most of the tea estates, the production in West Bengal is behind by 25 per cent to 40 per cent and in Assam around 10-15 per cent as against last year during the first fortnight of June.

The combined fall in the tea production till the end of June (this year) is projected to be less by around 60 million kgs in the region as compared to the corresponding period of last year.

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The crop that has been lost is primarily of the first and second flush – which are the best quality teas for the year. This is definitely going to impact the revenue of the producers for the year, Singhania pointed out.



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FM Nirmala Sitharaman holds pre-Budget meeting with India Inc.




New Delhi, June 20 (IANS) Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Thursday chaired the third pre-budget consultation with industry leaders and associations in connection with the forthcoming General Budget 2024-25 here on Thursday.

The pre-budget consultation meeting was also attended by Union Minister of State for Finance, Pankaj Chaudhary, Finance Secretary, and Secretary, Department of Expenditure; Secretaries of Departments of Economic Affairs, DPIIT, Ministry of Heavy Industry and Ministry of MSME as well as the government’s Chief Economic Adviser.

Apex business chamber, Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) has in its wish list for the Union Budget 2024-2025 urged the government to maintain corporate tax rates at current levels to provide tax certainty for businesses.

CII is also seeking rationalisation of Angel Tax by removing Section 56(2)(viib) in order to further nurture innovation & startups. According to the industry chamber, the scrapping of this section would “greatly aid in capital formation” for the startup sector.

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Under Section 56(2)(viib) of the Income Tax Act, for a startup to become eligible for angel tax exemption must meet certain conditions which industry claims are cumbersome and come in the way of attracting more investments.

As far as indirect taxation is concerned, CII has in its proposals sought the removal of the restriction to avail ITC (input tax credit) “to ensure seamless flow of credit to businesses where the property being constructed is being used for further providing an output service (such as renting, etc.”

CII has also sought the rationalisation and simplification of the Capital gains tax rate structure.

Besides, the apex business chamber is seeking the rationalisation of stamp duty on land and phasing out the cross-subsidy on power rates to “reduce the cost of doing business”.

CII has also suggested that captive power plants (CPPS) should be brought at par with the power sector for coal pricing, allocation, and transportation.

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It is also seeking a phasing out cross-subsidisation of railway passenger fares by freight to cut logistics costs for businesses.

In the pre-budget consultation meeting with the Finance Minister on Thursday, Subhrakant Panda, Immediate Past President, highlighted the importance of simplification of the tax system.

He said: “The Union Budget should continue the process of simplification and rationalisation of taxes for enhancing ease of doing business. This will also reduce tax related litigations and improve efficiency in the taxation system.”

He also emphasised the need to continue supporting the growth momentum by energising demand, laying thrust on infrastructure development, taking further measures to rein in food inflation, supporting MSMEs and prioritising innovation, and research & development in the country.

In its pre-budget memorandum presented to the Finance Minister, the PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PHDCCI) said that calibrated steps to enhance domestic sources of growth would be crucial to maintain a higher economic trajectory of the country.

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The budget can further stimulate manufacturing sector growth to boost GDP contribution to beyond 25 per cent, fueled by the increasing export trend in high-technology products, it added.

The industry body suggested expanding the production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme beyond the 14 sectors to include medicinal plants, handicrafts, leather and footwear, gems and jewellery and the space sector, among others.



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