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Spotlight on crucial role of assistive technology in empowering PwDs at ASSOCHAM event

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Spotlight on crucial role of assistive technology in empowering PwDs at ASSOCHAM event

New Delhi, July 10 (IANS) The sixth conference on ‘Empowering Persons with Disabilities through Accessible and Assistive Technology’ was organised by ASSOCHAM.

With the theme this year being ‘Innovation and Sustainable Solutions for Equal Opportunities’, the conference highlighted the importance of accessible information and communication technologies (ICTs), physical infrastructure and transportation, promoting employment opportunities through policy interventions, the role of public and private partnership in ensuring access to quality and affordable assistive technology.

Assistive technology has taken on a whole new dimension — giving voice to the previously voiceless, hearing to the deaf, and greater mobility than previously available. Empowering persons with disabilities (PwDs) with the confidence to achieve seemingly impossible goals, assistive technology has provided them with devices to excel at workplaces and prove their mettle.

Artificial Intelligence is also playing a catalytic role by boosting the number of features available by augmenting assistive devices; capabilities and personalising experiences.

Anil Rajput, Chairperson of the ASSOCHAM National CSR Council, said: “According to the WHO, 16 per cent of the world’s population, which is over a billion people, have some form of disability, and 80 per cent of these live in the developing countries. With mobility being a critical factor in the lives of PwDs, in this context, I appeal to the automobile manufacturers in India to bring in the latest technologies in vehicles for disabled people that are being used in different parts of the world. This could have a transformational impact in the lives of persons with disabilities in India.”

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“I also urge the media to not only focus on the challenges faced by the PwDs but also showcase their success stories. This will inspire many more to excel as well as bring forth their unique abilities before the larger audience,” he added.

According to estimates, the number of disabled persons in India stands at over 4 crore with some reports putting the number between 6 and 8 crore. Thus, ensuring an inclusive environment for PwDs will require concerted efforts of government, corporate houses and non-government organisations.

Rajesh Agarwal, IAS, Secretary, Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, said: “Every fourth family has a child with a disability and although society is becoming more inclusive, we need to do a lot more to ensure inclusivity. Although the government has policies in place for providing employment opportunities to PwDs, I believe employment opportunities in large numbers will have to come from the private sector. We also need more special schools in the country.”

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“Education is important as it will help them become independent and ensure their all-round development. Use of devices like braille displays, speech-to-text software, specialised keyboards, and software solutions have also emboldened PwDs and made them exemplary professionals,” he further said.

–IANS

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Rashtrapati Bhavan's Durbar Hall and Ashok Hall renamed as Gantantra Mandap and Ashok Mandap

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Rashtrapati Bhavan's Durbar Hall and Ashok Hall renamed as Gantantra Mandap and Ashok Mandap

Rashtrapati Bhavan's Durbar Hall and Ashok Hall renamed as Gantantra Mandap and Ashok Mandap

New Delhi, July 25 (IANS) In a significant development, two iconic halls of the Rashtrapati Bhavan have been renamed by President Droupadi Murmu on Thursday.

Durbar Hall will now be known as ‘Ganatantra Mandap’ while Ashok Hall has been renamed as ‘Ashok Mandap’.

The renaming of the halls has been done to drop their British semblance and ‘bring them closer’ to the Indian cultural values and ethos.

“Rashtrapati Bhavan, the office and the residence of the President of India, is a symbol of the nation, and an invaluable heritage of the people. Continuous efforts are being made to make it more accessible to people. There has been a consistent endeavour to make the ambience of the Rashtrapati Bhavan reflective of the Indian cultural values and ethos,” said a press communique from the President’s House.

While ‘Durbar Hall’ is the venue of important ceremonies and celebrations such as the presentation of National Awards, Ashok Hall served as a ballroom.

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“The term ‘Durbar’ refers to courts and assemblies of Indian rulers and the British. It lost relevance after India became a Republic, that is, ‘Ganatantra’. The concept of ‘Ganatantra’ is deeply rooted in Indian society since ancient times, making ‘Ganatantra Mandap’ an apt name for the venue,” the press note further said.

Ashok Hall was originally a ballroom. The word ‘Ashok’ connotes someone who is “free from all sufferings” or is “bereft of any sorrow”. Also, Ashoka refers to Emperor Ashok, a symbol of unity and peaceful co-existence.

“Renaming Ashoka Hall as Ashok Mandap brings uniformity in language and removes the traces of anglicisation while upholding the key values associated with the word ‘Ashok’,” it said.

–IANS

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MUDA case: Consent for CM Siddaramaiah’s prosecution to be sought from K'taka Guv

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MUDA case: Consent for CM Siddaramaiah’s prosecution to be sought from K'taka Guv

MUDA case: Consent for CM Siddaramaiah’s prosecution to be sought from K'taka Guv

Bengaluru, July 25 (IANS) In a major development, activist TJ Abraham has announced that he will seek the Governor’s consent for prosecution of Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Friday in connection with the MUDA case.

In a statement Abraham said, “I am scheduled to meet the Governor of Karnataka at 11.30 A.M. on Friday at Raj Bhavan, to seek his sanction for prosecution of CM Siddaramiah in accordance with Section 218 of the Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita, 2023, Section 17A and 19 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.”

He added that this step was being taken after filing a complaint with the Lokayukta Police in Mysore, on July 18 in connection with the alleged illegal allotment of 14 alternative compensatory sites in Vijayanagar, of Mysore District, to BM Parvathi Siddaramiah’s wife on January 5, 2022, causing a loss of Rs.44.64 crore to the state exchequer.

The irregularities allegedly involve several persons including CM Siddaramiah, his wife Parvathi, his MLA son S Yatindar, MUDA Commissioner DB Natesh, MUDA Chairman HV Rajeev, the then Sub-Registrar of Mysore North SK Siddiah, the then DC Mysuru G Kumar Nayak (currently the Congress MP from Raichur), the then DC of Mysuru S Selvakumar and other people.

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Abraham is the president of the Anti-Graft/Corruption and Environmental Forum.

During the tenure of Yediyurappa as the CM, prosecution consent was given by then Governor late Hansraj Bharadwaj in the denotification case, following which an FIR was lodged and the senior BJP leader had to face trial and was jailed in 2011.

–IANS

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Hushing up NEET leaks is alarming, how can we close our eyes: Priyank Kharge

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Hushing up NEET leaks is alarming, how can we close our eyes: Priyank Kharge

Hushing up NEET leaks is alarming, how can we close our eyes: Priyank Kharge

Bengaluru, July 25 (IANS) Defending the passing of resolutions against NEET and ‘One Nation, One Election’ by the Congress government on Thursday, Minister for IT/BT, RDPR Priyank Kharge stated that hushing up of the NEET paper leaks was alarming and Karnataka can’t close its eyes.

Speaking to reporters, Priyank Kharge stated, “We have moved a resolution like other states on safe, secure and transparent ways of conducting exams in the interest of students. How are they going to justify what has happened?

“The student who fails in 12th class in Gujarat gets 704 marks. How is the government defending it? How can we close our eyes? Seat blocking is resulting in people who do not pass class 12, becoming doctors.”

Asserting that Karnataka has the highest number of medical colleges, Priyank Kharge said, “We have been churning out medical professionals year on year. Even before NEET, we had our own entrance exam. In terms of conducting transparent examination, it had become a model.”

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Priyank Kharge maintained that what was happening in NEET was unfortunate and the way it had been pushed under the carpet was quite alarming.

Commenting on the Centre’s delimitation proposal, Kharge stated, “If delimitation is going to be what the Centre wants, the southern states which are good governing states will get punished. We are going to get punished for being good citizens. It is not acceptable.”

“We are economic growth engines for the country. You can’t have a skewed representation in the Parliament in future. You can get any resolution favouring certain states, it will be passed because of numerical strength,” he stated.

“More importantly, the BJP should explain how they will implement ‘One Nation, One Election’, when they are the ones who are orchestrating ‘Operation Lotus’ everywhere.

“Whenever, they don’t have majority, they buy MLAs. Who is forcing bye-elections? Have you ever thought about it? What about panchayat, municipal and corporation elections? They happen at different times for various reasons and how will you ensure decentralisation?” Priyank Kharge questioned.

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The Karnataka Assembly passed the resolutions against NEET, ‘One Nation, One Election’ and proposal for delimitation of Assembly and Parliamentary constituencies on Thursday.

–IANS

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India on the cusp of launching U-WIN platform to monitor kids' health records: Health Secy

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India on the cusp of launching U-WIN platform to monitor kids' health records: Health Secy

India on the cusp of launching U-WIN platform to monitor kids' health records: Health Secy

New Delhi, July 25 (IANS) India is unequivocally committed to the well-being of its adolescents — the highest in the world — and is soon set to launch a Co-WIN-like platform for monitoring and identifying health records of children, Union Health Secretary Apurva Chandra said on Thursday.

“India is on the cusp of launching the U-WIN platform which is modelled after the Co-WIN platform,” said Chandra, while speaking at the launch of the “Economic Case for Investment in the Well-being of Adolescents in India” report in the national capital.

The platform “would lead to a transformative impact on not just storing the health records of every child but also in digitising these records as well as in monitoring, identifying and rectifying the challenges that arise”, he added.

The report highlights significant improvements in adolescent well-being in India over recent decades, showcasing the government’s extensive policies and programmes aimed at promoting the health and well-being of adolescents.

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The Health Secretary noted that “India has and will continue to remain steadfast in its commitment to nurturing adolescents’ talents”.

“India has the largest population of adolescents in the world, 253 million strong, and growing. Our adolescents are the backbone of our future, embodying the promise of a vibrant and progressive nation,” Chandra said, noting that the country is “the first to launch the Rashtriya Kishor Swasthya Karyakram (RKSK)”.

RKSK is a dedicated programme to “reach out to the 253 million adolescents — male and female, rural and urban, married and unmarried, in and out-of-school adolescents with special focus on marginalised and under-served groups”.

Further, the Health Secretary pointed out several programmes for the well-being of adolescents, such as the School Health and Wellness Programme under Ayushman Bharat and the Scheme for Promotion of Menstrual Hygiene.

–IANS

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Kerala govt should not intrude into matters beyond its constitutional jurisdiction: MEA

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Kerala govt should not intrude into matters beyond its constitutional
 jurisdiction: MEA

Kerala govt should not intrude into matters beyond its constitutional
 jurisdiction: MEA

New Delhi, July 25 (IANS) Reacting strongly to Kerala government’s recent order to appoint a senior IAS officer as a ‘Foreign Secretary’, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Thursday made it clear that the Indian Constitution clearly states that ‘Foreign Affairs’ are not ‘Concurrent’, “and definitely not a State subject”.

In an order dated July 15, the Kerala government led by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan appointed senior bureaucrat K. Vasuki as Foreign Secretary in matters concerning external cooperation.

“Let’s be very clear, the Constitution of India under the Seventh Schedule, List I, which is a Union List, clearly specifies that foreign affairs and all matters which bring the Union into the relation with any foreign country are the sole prerogative of the Union government.

“Foreign affairs is not a concurrent subject and definitely not a State subject. So, our position is that state governments should not intrude into matters that are beyond their constitutional jurisdiction,” MEA spokesperson Randhir Jaiswal said on Thursday.

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Meanwhile, the Kerala government continues to receive criticism from several quarters for its decision.

“The appointment of an IAS officer as Foreign Secretary in Kerala by CM Pinarayi Vijayan is a blatant overreach and a violation of the Union List of the Constitution. The LDF government has no mandate in foreign affairs,” said K. Surendran, BJP’s Kerala unit chief.

“This unconstitutional move sets a dangerous precedent. Is CM Pinarayi Vijayan trying to establish Kerala as a separate nation,” Surendran asked.

He added that if things continue like this, the Chief Minister would be asking for a separate consulate and a Foreign Affairs Minister very soon.

“In the larger interest of the country, CM Vijayan should immediately cancel the appointment of Vasuki to the new post as it’s not in tune with national interest,” Surendran said.

–IANS

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