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Top 10 Indian Universities according to NIRF 2019

“Millennia ago, universities such as those of Nalanda made India an international centre of education and knowledge production. In the 21st century, Indian universities must push themselves to reach a similar status. We owe it to our history and our heritage. Much more than that, we owe it to our young people and our future” said the President Shri Ram Nath Kovind, while releasing National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) India Rankings 2019 under nine categories: Overall, Universities, Engineering, Colleges, Management, Pharmacy, Medical, Architecture, and Law, were released by Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), on 8 April 8 2019 at Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi.

NIRF has been awarding ranks to Universities in the country, based on specified parameters of ‘teaching, learning and resources, research and professional practices, graduation outcomes, outreach and inclusivity, and perception’. Top 10 universities in India in the order of rankings as per NIRF Rankings 2019 and Atal Ranking of Institutions on Innovation Achievements (ARIIA) Awards are as under:

  1. Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru that aims to be among the world’s foremost academic institutions through the pursuit of excellence in research and promotion of innovation by offering a world-class education to train future leaders in science and technology and by applying science and technology breakthroughs for India’s wealth creation and social welfare.
  2. Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi is the foremost university in India and a world-renowned centre for teaching and research. Ranked number one in India by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) with a Grade Point of 3.91 (on a scale of 4), JNU was ranked No. 3 among all universities in India by NIRF, in 2016 and No. 2 in 2017. JNU also received the Best University Award from the President of India in 2017.
  3. Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, formerly Central Hindu College, is a Public Central University located in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh. It was established in 1916 by Madan Mohan Malaviya. With over 30000 students residing in campus, it claims the title of the largest residential university in Asia.
  4. University of Hyderabad, its office of International Affairs provides leadership, advocacy, and support for University-wide international activities in order to achieve coherence and integration of international programmes and services. The mission is accomplished by serving as the focal point for the oversight, coordination, and management of University’s international programmes, services, and resources. The University of Hyderabad promotes international exchanges in the firm belief that the fruits of academic research and educational endeavours should benefit all of humanity.
  5. Calcutta University, Kolkata, established on 24 January 1857, is a Collegiate Public State University located in Kolkata, West Bengal, India. It was the first institution in Asia to be established as a multidisciplinary and secular Western-style university. Within India it is recognized as a “Five-Star University” and Accredited “A” Grade by NAAC and declared as a “University with Potential for Excellence” & a “Centre with Potential for Excellence In Particular Area” by University Grants Commission.
  6. Jadavpur University, Kolkata has successfully established itself as a foremost Indian University with a vast repertoire of courses offered, an enviable list of faculty members and has come to be known for its commitment towards advanced study and research.
  7. Anna University, Chennai, established on 4 September 1978, is a state technical university in Tamil Nadu, India. The main campus is in Guindy, Chennai and its satellite campus is in Chromepet, Chennai.
  8. Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham University, Coimbatore is multi-campus, multi-disciplinary research academia that is accredited ‘A’ by NAAC and is ranked as one of the best research institutions in India. Amrita is spread across six campuses in three states of India – Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, with the headquarters at Ettimadai, Coimbatore, and Tamil Nadu. Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham continuously collaborates with top US universities including Ivy League universities and top European universities for regular student exchange programmes and has emerged as one of the fastest growing institutions of higher learning in India.
  9. Manipal Academy of Higher Education, Manipal, formerly known as Manipal University, is a private research institute deemed to be university located in the university town of Manipal, Udupi, Karnataka, India. Manipal Academy of Higher Education has branch campuses in Dubai and Mangalore. It also has sister campuses in Sikkim and Jaipur. It is a member of the Association of Commonwealth Universities.
  10. Savitribai Phule Pune University, Pune, the main educational centre of Maharashtra Savitribai Phule Pune University that offers excellent programs in various areas including Science, Commerce, Arts, Languages and Management Studies, is one of the finest and most popular educational centres in the city of Pune, which houses many well-known, established institutes and colleges. Numerous students from every corner of India and the world come to Pune, a quite safe and peaceful city as compared to other educational centres in India.


Platinum Jubilee Commemoration of Battle of Kangla Tongbi

Battle of Kangla Tongbi, considered one of the fiercest battles of World War II, fought by ordnance personnel of 221 Advance Ordnance Depot (AOD), was fought on the night of 6/ 7 April 1944. Its Platinum Jubilee was commemorated by Army Ordnance Corps, honouring valiant brave hearts of 221 AOD who made their supreme sacrifice in the line of duty during the battle, at Kangla Tongbi War Memorial near Imphal on 07 Apr 2019.

Descendants of Indian Martyrs, next of kin of Britishers who participated during the Kangla Tongbi Ops, Veteran Officers and Lt Gen Dalip Singh, VSM, DGOS & Senior Colonel Commandant as the chief guest did the wreath laying to commence the event. They visited Kangla Tongbi Childrens Home. To commemorate the occasion and as a matter of charity, the inmates were presented gifts during interaction with them. Locals enthusiastically participated during the complete event.

Battle of Kangla Tongbi also known as Battle of Lion Box was fought between the Axis (Japanese) Force and Allied Force during Second World War (1942-1945) when marauding Japanese forces were trying to extend their line of communication to Kohima, as part of their planned three pronged offensive to capture Imphal and surrounding areas;  the 33rd Japanese Division cut in behind the 17th Indian Division at Tiddim (Mynmar) and establishing themselves firmly, started advancing towards Kangla Tongbi on the main Imphal-Dimapur, road a few miles north of Imphal. Here at Kangla Tongbi, a small but determined detachment of the 221 AOD put up a stiff resistance stalling the desperate bayonet charges and the advances of Japanese forces till reinforcement arrived to turn the tide against the Japanese troops.

  • The 221 AOD was not at all sound from a tactical point of view as it was exposed to enemy from all sides and had to rely on its own combatant manpower for its defence.
  • Major Boyd, Deputy Chief of Ordnance Officer (DCOO) was made in charge of operations for defence of the Depot.
  • A Suicide squad comprising of Major Boyd, Havildar/ Clerk Store Basant Singh, Conductor Panken and other personnel from the Depot was created.
  • Orders were received on 06 Apr 1944 to evacuate 4000 tons of ammunition, armaments and other warlike stores.
  • Japanese mounted a heavy attack on the Depot, rushing downhill into a deep nallah, which was used as a covered approach to the Depot on the night of 6/7 Apr 1944.
  • Depot sited a very well camouflaged bunker on this approach.
  • Bren Gun Section in this bunker having spotted an enemy section within range, opened fire.
  • This shook the enemy and forced Japanese to withdraw leaving many dead.  Bren Gun was manned by Hav/ Clerk Store Basant Singh.
  • Major Boyd was awarded Military Cross (MC), Conductor Panken Military Medal (MM) and Hav/ Clerk Store Basant Singh Indian Distinguished Service Medal (IDSM) for this act of gallantry.

Kangla Tongbi War Memorial, originally erected in 1946 from local naga stone, standing tall in Khengjang village of Kanglatongbi area, Sadar Hills under Imphal West District, Kanglatongbi, is a mute testimony to fighting prowess of AOD and unflinching devotion to duty of the Ordnance personnel of 221 AOD, 19 of them made the supreme sacrifice in this battle. Indian Army renovated and re-dedicated a new war memorial at the same site in 2011. It conveys to the world at large that Ordnance personnel, apart from being professional logisticians, are second to none in combat, being equally proficient soldiers, should the occasion demand.  It is a tradition for young Advance Ordnance Corps officers to first visit the Kangla Tongbi Memorial on their commissioning. As it commemorate the Platinum Jubilee of this hard fought battle, the spirit of Kangla Tongbi lives eternally in the hearts of all Army Ordnance Corps personnel of the Indian Army and continues to be source of inspiration for all ranks.

National Seminar on Greenery and Landscaping

“Greenery and Landscaping”, a National Seminar, which focused on Green Urban Areas for sustainable development by optimal harnessing of scarce resources of water, air, energy, land, biodiversity and use of new technologies, that play an important role in the social and natural sustainability and improve quality of life, organized by the Central Public Works Department (CPWD), as a part of its continued effort for green and clean sustainable development, was inaugurated by Durga Shanker Mishra, Secretary, Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, on 5 April 2019 in New Delhi. CPWD Publications and e-Modules were also released during the function.

Presentations by eminent Horticulturists, Architects and Engineers and over 40 papers received made following recommendations during the Seminar:

  • Green Urban Areas play an important role in the social and natural sustainability and improve quality of life.
  • Greenery and Dense plantation have a major impact on conservation of energy, and reduce energy requirement of buildings.
  • It is essential to take up plantation work to maintain sustainable environment, pollution free clean air.
  • People are not getting any area for greenery as cost of land has increased manifold and high rise buildings are coming up.
  • Plantation, greenery and other environment friendly applications should be planned around buildings by way of dwarf trees, small shrubs, ground covers, hanging baskets, creepers, etc.
  • Alternative materials to wood such as Bamboo should be encouraged in building construction.
  • New technologies in landscaping and Horticulture should be implemented to save the labour and cost of project in the long run and for that orientation and proper training should be imparted to the persons engaged.
  • Emphasis should be given for conserving and transplanting indigenous and grown up trees.
  • Herbal plants are useful for keeping the life healthy and plantation of these along with medicinal plants should be encouraged.
  • Organic Manure should be applied for healthy and nutritious food.
  • Drip irrigation, Sprinkler irrigation and pop up system should to be adopted to conserve water.
  • Every individual should adopt minimum one tree as plants and greenery help in reducing adverse effects of climate change.
  • Green initiative should be taken up on a mission mode by every nation, every city, every society and every individual so that future generations may lead happy and healthy life.

Prabhakar Singh, Director General, CPWD elaborated achievements of CPWD in terms of adoption of the sustainable development measures, human resource management, speedier and quality construction, adoption of new technologies, completion of projects on time with quality and economy and implementation of new policy initiatives.

GRIDTECH 2019 – International Exhibition & Conference

GRIDTECH 2019, the 6th International Exhibition and Conference to deliberate on new technologies in Transmission, Distribution, Renewable Integration, Smart Grid, Communication, organised by the Power Grid Corporation of India Limited with the support of Ministry of Power and in association with CBIP and IEEMA from 3 to 5 April 2019, was inaugurated by M. Venkaiah Naidu, Vice President, at India Trade Promotion Organisation (ITPO), Pragati Maidan, New Delhi, and while addressing gathering, there, Naidu said,

 “Adequate growth in renewable energy would serve dual purpose – firstly, it would contribute towards achieving energy security to the nation and it would address the environmental concerns, which need to be tackled on a war-footing”, and elaborated as under:

  • Experts should find out new technologies to harness renewable energy to fulfil India’s energy demands and India’s international commitment to de-carbonize the electricity generation.
  • New and renewable energy should be promoted in a big way to ensure energy security and protect climate, reduce pollution.
  • Environment friendly clean and green mode of transport, such as Electrical Vehicles (EVs) should be promoted on a large scale.
  • These measures have the potential to save foreign exchange on crude oil import apart from reducing carbon emissions.
  • Renewable energy provisions should be included right from the planning of towns.
  • World was looking towards India for investments as India’s economic growth was the main factor for new found enthusiasm of the world community.
  • Rapid urbanization has led to increased energy demand and rise of Green House Gas (GHG) emissions.
  • Technologists should find new methods for tapping huge potential in the renewable energy sector.
  • Common man should be educated on the need to cut down GHG emissions & use renewable energy.
  • Electricity and connectivity are keys to development.
  • Suitable transmission and distribution system should be developed to facilitate renewable integration
  • Smart grid technologies used by many countries have potential to solve the challenges of pilferages in transmission and distribution.

GRIDTECH 2019, an excellent platform for evolution of new ideas in the energy sector through brainstorming by seasoned professionals, also had a “Student’s Innovation Pavilion”, where students community was able to demonstrate emerging technologies in their working models in the field of Transmission, Distribution, Renewable Integration, Communication etc., besides Robotic technology in transmission/distribution line maintenance; Communication technology to integrate sensors & meters for Smart Grid Applications; Smart Home Energy Systems; as well as Smart City to include Smart Transport, Smart Security, Smart Water Management, and Smart Building.


Atal Ranking of Institutions on Innovation Achievements

Atal Ranking of Institutions on Innovation Achievements (ARIIA), introduced in 2019 for the first time under National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF),  is an initiative of Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), Govt. of India to systematically rank all major higher educational institutions and universities in India on indicators related to “Innovation and Entrepreneurship Development” amongst students and faculties.

ARIIA 2019 was released by Shri Ram Nath Kovind, President of India, on Monday 8 April 2019 at Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi.

Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT Madras) has emerged as the ‘Top innovative Institution’ in the country in the maiden edition of the Atal Ranking of Institutions on Innovation Achievements, launched by the Innovation Cell of MHRD in 2018, bagging the Rank no: 1 in Government Institutions category.

Speaking on the occasion President said that it is critical that there be a significant Indian presence in global rankings of leading universities and higher educational institutions in the very near future. We live in the age of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, amid a knowledge society and an innovation economy. We cannot realise our potential without the requisite education infrastructure – measured both by numbers and standards. That is why the keen sense with which institutions participate in the India Rankings mechanism should persist and be escalated to striving for and achieving rankings among the global best, and added,

“In our country, recent expansion in higher education has widened access and improved equity. Even so, quality remains a concern. While there are islands of excellence, both in the public and private sectors, overall standards are uneven. As India’s higher education infrastructure continues to grow, and as enrolment rises, it is important to lift the bar. A nuanced approach is essential to ensure that higher education not only fulfils individual aspirations, but also achieves national goals and priorities.”

  • ARIIA endeavours to systematically rank education institutions and universities primarily on innovation related indicators.
  • Innovation is the buzzword across the globe for the 21st
  • Innovation could be defined as converting ideas into new or improved products, processes and services.
  • Innovation is about taking inventions to marketplace by translating scientific knowledge into products, services and offerings for economic growth and social development.
  • Prime Minister of India has declared decade 2010-20 as the ‘Decade of Innovation’, to unleash the creative potential of every Indian.
  • Innovation ranking of India on Global stage has already been improving, as India is now placed at 57th place this year, whereas, it was at 86th place 5 years ago.
  • For India to emerge as a global innovation hub, the youth of our country, especially in Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) need to play a crucial role to create a sustainable innovation ecosystem.
  • Hence, ideally all HEIs should have a comprehensive and functional mechanism to convert research into innovations.
  • This ecosystem will encourage, inspire and nurture young students by exposing them to new ideas and processes resulting in innovative activities in their formative years.
  • ARIIA aims to inspire Indian institutions to reorient their mind-set and build ecosystems to encourage high quality research, innovation and entrepreneurship.
  • ARIIA focuses on quality of innovations and endeavours to measure the real impact created by these innovations nationally and internationally.
  • Major Indicators for consideration for ARIIA are:
    • Budget & Funding Support.
    • Infrastructure & Facilities.
    • Awareness, Promotions & support for Idea Generation & Innovation.
    • Promotion & Support for Entrepreneurship Development.
    • Innovative Learning Methods & Courses.
    • Intellectual Property Generation, Technology Transfer & Commercialization.
    • Innovation in Governance of the Institution.
  • ARIIA will set tone and direction for institutions for future development for making them globally competitive and in forefront of innovation.

Ram Nath Kovind is likely to be the 14th President of India

Ram Nath Kovind, with gubernatorial experience as Governor of Bihar, chosen as National Democratic Alliance’s Presidential nominee; is a low profile, self-made man, a trained lawyer, a Dalit from humble background, has a clean slate and while in active politics had been above controversy; whose habits of diligently working for social welfare make him stand out among leaders that makes him an ideal candidate for Rashtrapati Bhavan. He was elected as a Rajya Sabha member from Uttar Pradesh in 1994 and served for two consecutive terms for 12 years till March, 2006. He represented India in the United Nations in New York and addressed United Nations General Assembly in October, 2002. He is known for his work in the field of education, has served as a member on the board of management of the Dr B R Ambedkar University, Lucknow, and was a member of the board of Governors of the Indian Institute of Management, Kolkata. Presently, Pranab Kumar Mukherjee is the 13th President of India since 25 July 2012 and his term expires on 25 July 2017.

  • Ram Nath Kovind was born on October 1, 1945 in Kanpur Dehat (Rural) district of Uttar Pradesh, is married to Savita in 1974, has a son and a daughter.
  • His face doesn’t grab airtime. His comments do not court controversy and his actions seldom make news
  • A commerce graduate studied law at Kanpur University, practiced as an advocate in the Delhi high court and the Supreme Court for 16 years until 1993; and provided free legal aid to weaker sections, especially the SC/ST women, and poor and needy girls under the aegis of the Free Legal Aid Society in Delhi.
  • He was also the Central government’s standing counsel in the apex court from 1980-93.
  • During his parliamentary tenure, he emphasized on development of basic infrastructure for education in rural areas and helped in the construction of school buildings in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand under MPLAD (Member of Parliament Local Area Development) Scheme.
  • He has served as a member of several parliamentary committees, including the Parliamentary Committee on Welfare of Scheduled Castes/Tribes, Parliamentary Committee on Social Justice and Empowerment, among others.
  • As a Member of Parliament, he visited Thailand, Nepal, Pakistan, Singapore, Germany, Switzerland, France, United Kingdom and the USA.
  • He joined a stir by SC/ST employees when in 1997 certain orders were issued by the Centre which adversely affected their interests. These orders were later declared null and void after the passage of three amendments in the Constitution during the rule of the first NDA government led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
  • A crusader for the rights of weaker sections, champion of the scheduled caste, scheduled tribe, OBC, minority and women’s rights from his student days; he has been drawn more to the politics of social empowerment of Dalits and other weaker sections than the plank of religion.
  • He headed BJP Dalit Morcha from 1998 to 2002, and led the All-India Koli Samaj.
  • Known for his organizational skills he is a former national spokesperson of Bharatiya Janata Party.
  • Largely seen as an affable man, he has had a quiet innings as the 36th Governor of Bihar, a post that he took up on August 08, 2015 months before the last assembly elections held in the state.
  • It is an acknowledgement of his non-confrontational conduct that Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has lavished praise on Kovind, saying he had done ‘exemplary work’ as Governor.

Ram Nath Kovind, a Dalit leader from the Koli community in Uttar Pradesh, is articulate and coherent in his addresses and fluent in both the languages of Hindi and English; echoes the thoughts of Dr. BR Ambedkar when he talks about women empowerment in the country. In other speeches he talks about the importance of books and libraries in the world and talks quite extensively about youth power and how to exploit effectively the demographic dividend in the country.

Dhola-Sadiya Bridge- India’s Longest River Bridge to Transform Road Connectivity in the North-Eastern Region

Dhola-Sadiya Bridge, India’s longest river bridge, across River Lohit, a tributary of the Brahmaputra in Assam’s Tinsukia district was inaugurated on May 26, 2017 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and it was decided to name it after Bhupen Hazarika. This bridge will shorten the distance between Assam and Arunachal Pradesh by 165 km and will reduce travel time between the two states by five hours from six hours earlier to just one hour now. The new bridge can withstand the weight of 60-tonne battle tanks and will provide easy access to Indian Army to reach the country’s eastern borders. This assumes strategic significance given its position vis-a-vis the Indo-China border in Arunachal Pradesh will give a major boost to tourism and overall economic development of the area by transforming road connectivity in the north-eastern region.

Highlights of Dhola-Sadiya Bridge are as under:

India’s Longest River Bridge
spanning 9.15 km with three-lane carriage way is built across the Lohit River, a tributary of the mighty Brahmaputra. It connects Sadiya town in Assam’s Tinsukia district with Dhola village in Arunachal Pradesh.Highlights of Dhola-Sadiya Bridge are as under:

  • It is 3.55 km longer than the Bandra-Worli sea link in Mumbai. The sea link has now become the second longest river bridge in the country.
  • Seismic buffers have been provided in all its 182 piers given to the fact that theNorth East is prone to high seismic activity.
  • The construction of the Dhola-Sadiya Bridge began in 2011 by the Ministry of Road Transport along with Navayuga Engineering Company Ltd., under the public-private-partnership agreement.
  • The total length of the project, including the approach roads on each side, is 28.50 km. The bridge is located 540 km from Assam’s capital Dispur and 300 km from Arunachal Pradesh capital Itanagar.
  • The bridge will reduce the travel time between Rupai on NH-37 in Assam and Meka/ Roing on NH-52 in Arunachal Pradesh from six hours to just one hour as the distance will shrink by 165 km.
  • Earlier, the only means to cross the Brahmaputra at this location was by ferry in the daytime, and even this was not possible during floods. The Dhola- Sadiya Bridge will ensure 24X7 all weather connectivity between upper Assam and the eastern part of Arunachal Pradesh.
  • Constructed at a total cost of Rs 2,056 crore, the bridge is part of the Arunachal Package of Roads and Highways under the Ministry’s Special Accelerated Road Development Programme for North East.
  • State-run SAIL is the largest supplier of steel for the bridge. The PSU has supplied around 90% or around 30,000 tonnes of steel, including TMT, structural and plates, for the bridge.
  • This, the government claims, will result in saving of petrol and diesel worth Rs 10 lakh per day.
  • The Dhola-Sadiya Bridge promises to provide efficient road connectivity to remote and backward areas which have poor road infrastructure, which will give a major boost to overall economic development of the areas north of the Brahmaputra in upper Assam and Arunachal Pradesh.
  • The bridge will also benefit the army, with convoys requiring less time to journey from Assam to the posts along the India-China border in Arunachal Pradesh. The bridge is also expected to enhance India’s defense capabilities in the northeastern region.
  • The bridge will cater to the strategic requirements of the country in the border areas of Arunachal Pradesh, besides facilitating numerous hydro power projects coming up in the State, as it is the most sought after route for various power project developers.
  • The bridge will increase industrial investments with better border trade between the Northeast and South Asian countries.

PratiyogitaDarpan: AFavourite Magazine for Competitive Exams

Competitive Examinations require a great deal of preparations. Magazines play an important role in the preparations specifically in case of the UPSC eCivil Services Examination (CSE), where a large part of Current Affairs related questions are analytical in nature. Reading newspapers keeps candidates abreast with the current events of national and international importance on daily and regular basis and magazines provide all such information with background, additional data and opinions of various stakeholders at one place. Magazines also provide the study material, practice tests, toppers interviews, tips and strategies to clear the examination.

Pratiyogita Darpan, published by Upkar Prakashan based in Agra, in English and Hindi languages, is one of the most favourite magazines, amongst aspirants of various competitive examinations including the CSE, on current affairs and general knowledge. Keeping in view the requirement of candidates, it presents useful study material by a team of highly qualified and experienced authors that widely covers areas such as economy, geography, history, politics, the constitution of India, and current affairs.

A glimpse of what PratiyogitaDarpan presents every month is as under:

  • International, National and Regional news and events with updates.
  • Career news on Employment and forthcoming Competitive Examinations.
  • Current affairs related to Sports, Memorable Points and Economic Scenario.
  • Awards and Honours; Books and Authors; New Appointments and Persons in News.
  • Conferences, Seminars, Agreements and MOUs
  • Interviews of toppers in competitive examinations to inspire the aspirants.
  • Number of core articles on important national and international events.
  • Articles on Innovation, Space, Science and Technology, Information Technology and Artificial Intelligence.
  • New Development Initiatives.
  • Banking, Finance, Economy, Business, Trade and Industry.
  • Most recent updates about funds and worldwide political issues.
  • International relations and visits of foreign dignitaries.
  • Widely appreciated and trusted tools for the benefit of aspirant readers are Compendium and Concentric Quiz.
  • Solved question papers with relevant hints and short but clear-cut explanations of UPSC CSE, IBPS, Railway, and SSC etc.
  • The in depth articles on various topics prepared by taking into account the questions asked in previous exams.

A large number of questions that appeared Pratiyogita Darpan are asked in the Civil Services Preliminary and Mains and other Competitive Examinations.

Candidates appearing for various competitive examinations should read the PratiyogitaDarpan intelligently and wisely to equip themselves with the knowledge to face the examinationsto achieve a sure success. Aspirants find this magazine indispensable due to its all-encompassing format and synopsis of events taking place globally and at home.

Justice P C Ghose is India’s First Lokpal

India gets its first Lokpal, as the former Supreme Court Judge Pinaki Chandra Ghose has been appointed as Lokpal, an office dedicated to fighting systemic corruption in the country, by a committee consisting of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, Loksabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan and Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi in the capacity of ’eminent person’. The concept of an institutional mechanism, or an anti-corruption ombudsman, which has been around for over 50 years, finally got shape with the passing of the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill – 2013, in Lok Sabha on 18 December 2013. It was finally enacted as a law in 2013, and came into effect on January 16, 2014.

President Ram Nath Kovind has appointed Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghose as Lokpal along with other members of the anti-corruption watchdog, according to a communiqué issued by Rashtrapati Bhavan on 20 March 2019. 66-year old Justice Ghose retired as Supreme Court judge in May, 2017. He is a member of the National Human Rights Commission since 29 June 2017.

President of India administered the Oath of Office to Shri Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghose as Chairperson, Lokpal, at a ceremony held on Saturday 23 March 2019 at 1030 hrs at Rashtrapati Bhavan.

Lokpal will have four judicial and four non-judicial members. Former Chief Justices – Dilip B. Bhosale, Pradip Kumar Mohanty, and Abhilasha Kumari and sitting Chief Justice of Chhattisgarh High Court Ajay Kumar Tripathi – have been appointed as judicial members.

Non-judicial members are: former first woman Chief of Sashastra Seema Bal Archana Ramasundaram, ex-Maharashtra Chief Secretary Dinesh Kumar Jain, former IRS officer Mahender Singh and ex-IAS officer Indrajeet Prasad Gautam.

Lokpal Act was passed in 2013 following a nationwide anti-corruption movement led by India Against Corruption, a civil society movement of activist Anna Hazare in 2011 against what many saw as unreasonable levels of corruption under the then UPA regime, spurred by Hazare’s hunger strike, which demanded the appointment of Lokpal at the Centre and Lokayuktas in the states to probe and prosecute corruption complaints against political leaders and public servants, including the Prime Minister and Chief Ministers.

  • Constitutional Ombudsman as a concept was for the first time proposed in parliament by Law Minister Ashoke Kumar Sen in early 1960s.
  • Dr L M Singhvi coined the term “Lokpal”  in 1963.
  • 1st Administrative Reforms Commission in 1966 recommended enacting of the Office of a Lokpal so as to remove the sense of injustice from the minds of citizens and to instil public confidence in the efficiency of the administrative machinery.
  • Eight attempts were made from 1968 to 2011 to pass Lokpal Bill, but in vain.
  • A group of Ministers, chaired by Pranab Mukherjee, was formed by the government in 2011to examine proposal of a Lokpal Bill and suggest measures to tackle corruption
  • Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill passed in both Houses of Parliament in 2013.
  • Lok Sabha agreed on a couple of amendments in 2016 on the declaration of assets by public servants and Bill was sent to Standing Committee for review.
  • Lokpal Act allows setting up of anti-corruption ombudsman called Lokpal at the Centre and Lokayukta at the State-level.
  • Lokpal will consist of a chairperson and a maximum of eight members.
  • Lokpal will cover all categories of public servants, including the Prime Minister.
  • Armed forces do not come under the ambit of Lokpal.
  • Act also incorporates provisions for attachment and confiscation of property acquired by corrupt means, even while the prosecution is pending.
  • States to institute Lokayukta within one year of the commencement of the Act.
  • Lokpal will have the power of superintendence and direction over any investigation agency including CBI for cases referred to them by the ombudsman.
  • Lokpal can summon or question any public servant if there is any prima facie case against the person, even before an investigation agency (such as vigilance or CBI) has begun the probe.
  • Any officer of the CBI investigating a case referred to it by the Lokpal, shall not be transferred without the approval of the Lokpal.
  • An investigation must be completed within six months.
  • Lokpal or Lokayukta may, however, allow extensions of six months at a time provided the reasons for the need of such extensions are given in writing.
  • Special courts will be instituted to conduct trials on cases referred by Lokpal.
  • Lokpal can award fine up to 2 lakh for “false, frivolous or vexatious” complaints.

Lokpal’s appointment system is a two-stage process. A search committee has to be formed. It recommends a panel of names to the high-power selection committee, which comprises Prime Minister, Speaker of Lok Sabha, Leader of the Opposition, Chief Justice of India (or his nominee) and an eminent jurist. The selection panel has to choose from a short-list consisting of names for the posts of Lokpal chairperson, and judicial and non-judicial members.

The 16th Lok Sabha that commenced May 2014 does not have a Leader of Opposition to sit on the selection panel. For an opposition party to get the Leader of the Opposition post it should have strength of at least 10% of the total members in the House and none of the parties managed to cross this mark. The Congress (largest opposition party) leader in the Lok Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge, did not attend selection committee meetings as a ‘special invitee’ and wanted full membership.

Now that the Lokpal has been chosen, victims of corruption have a viable avenue of redress. Lokpal will take over the work of sanctioning prosecution, besides exercising its power to order preliminary inquiries and full-fledged investigations by any agency, including the CBI.


Web Wonder Women campaign

Web Wonder Women, online campaign aimed to recognise the fortitude of Indian women stalwarts from across the globe, who have used the power of social media to run positive and niche campaigns to steer a change in the society, which was launched on 9 January 2019 by the Ministry of Women and Child Development (WCD) in collaboration with Twitter India and Breakthrough India, selected after an extensive research process – 30 women, who have been driving social reforms via social media. Indian-origin women, working or settled anywhere in the world, were eligible for nomination which were open till 31 January 2019. Smt. Maneka Gandhi Union Minister of WCD Ministry felicitated these 30 women stalwarts on Wednesday 6 March 2019 in New Delhi, and said:

“Women online, though niche, are a very powerful voice. #WebWonderWomen was a campaign to recognise honour and encourage such voices that have in their own capacity driven a positive impact on social media platforms”. “Indian women have always been enterprising and have created a positive impact on society with their hard work, experience, and knowledge”.

WCD Minister, along with a panel of 10 judges, from over 240 nominations received under the categories media, awareness, legal, health, governmental, food, environment, development, business and art, selected these 30 women who have impacted and influenced society through social media. Some of the awardees include:

  • Adhunika Prakash: Founder and CEO of Breastfeeding Support for Indian Mothers
  • Afreen Siddiqui Sherwani: A passionate development professional with over 11 years of working with the Gram Panchayats to policy makers and the United Nations.
  • Chavi Vohra: A development professional, experienced in promoting children rights, women’s empowerment and youth development through programme development, advocacy, social media advocacy and capacity development.
  • Angela Chaudhuri: B.D.S, M.P.H and P G Diploma in Journalism. With 18+ years of experience in Public Health, Angela’s expertise lies in country programme evaluations, research, capacity building, fundraising and knowledge management in HIV, TB, Malaria, Health Systems Strengthening.
  • Sohini Chattopadhyay: An award winning reporter and writer, who has been published in The New York Times, The Guardian, The Sueddeutsche Zeitung, the Hindu, Mint and the South China Morning Post. She has published ground breaking reportage on women’s health, particularly on maternal health and the predominance of women among living organ donors in India. Her writing on popular films is acclaimed, and known for its focus on women and sexual minorities.
  • Saundarya Rajesh: One of India’s most impactful thought leaders on diversity.

Web Wonder Women is the third leg of the ‘Women Achievers’ campaign of the Ministry of Women and Child Development; after Nari Shakti Puruskar and First Ladies initiative – system of recognising women who have broken the glass ceiling and ventured into unusual fields. In 2018, the ministry hosted ‘First Ladies’, a first-of-its-kind government initiative to felicitate exceptional women who were the first to set a milestone in their respective fields