Read about the new fee structure in IITs, the latest MoU between India and Sweden, the new Iceland PM, the water crisis in west bangal and more …
1) SC/STs, Dalits, disabled to get 100% fee waiver at IITs :
- Union human resource development minister Smriti Irani on Wednesday promised a fee waiver for all SC/ST, Dalit and physically challenged students of the 23 branches of Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)
- “Besides a complete fee waiver for these students, those with a family income of less than Rs 5 lakh will be given a 66% concession in the fees,” Irani told the press.
- Irani said the move will benefit nearly 50% of the 60,471 students enrolled in the country’s premier technology institutes.
- The decision follows an IIT panel clearing a proposal for a three-fold fee hike, from Rs 90,000 to Rs 3 lakh per annum from the next academic session. The final decision on this rests with the HRD minister.
- The minister was in Surat to participate in an event to mark BJP foundation day.
- Currently, the IITs have a 15% reservation for SCs, 7.5% for STs and 27% for OBCs. The 66% concession in fee will benefit a much larger number of students from the middle-class and lower middle-class segments.
2) Cabinet approves India-Sweden MoU on railways:
- The government on Wednesday approved a memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed between India and Sweden on technical cooperation in the railway sector.
- The MoU was approved by the Union Cabinet, which met here under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
- According to the statement, the MoU will enable technical cooperation in railways policy development, regulations and exchange of knowledge.
- In addition, the MoU entails cooperation in areas such as, freight operations in cold regions, capacity allocation and optimisation of maintenance.
- Besides, the MoU will facilitate training and education program in reliability and maintenance of rail transport system for engineers and managers.
- “The Union Cabinet has given its ex-post facto approval to MoU signed on 15th February, 2016 between India and Sweden on technical cooperation in the railway sector,” the Union Cabinet said in a statement.
3) Panama papers: Iceland names PM replacement:
- Iceland’s ruling coalition has named Sigurdur Ingi Johannsson as the new PM, with early elections to be held in the autumn.
- Mr Johannsson, 53, is agriculture and fisheries minister and deputy leader of the Progressive Party (PP).
- The move comes after PM and PP chairman Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson stepped down in the wake of the leaked Panama Papers.
- The leaks, from Panama law firm Mossack Fonseca, showed Mr Gunnlaugsson owned an offshore firm with his wife.
- It was not declared when he became an MP. Mr Gunnlaugsson says he sold his shares to his wife and denies any wrongdoing. But he is accused of concealing millions of dollars’ worth of family assets.
4) Supreme Court orders Vijay Mallya to declare all assets, banks reject his proposal:
- The SBI-led consortium of banks Thursday rejected the proposal made by founder-owner of Kingfisher Airlines Vijay Mallya in the Supreme Court whereby he had offered to repay Rs 4000 crore of loans to the public sector banks (PSBs) by September this year.
- According to the consortium of 17 public sector banks (PSBs), Mallya’s total outstanding loan is over Rs 9000 crore.
- The banks further insisted on Mallya’s presence on the negotiation table and sought a direction to him for a complete disclosure of all his movable and immovable assets, including the shareholdings in various companies.
- A bench of Justices Kurian Joseph and Rohinton F Nariman prima facie agreed with the bank’s view and asked Mallya’s lawyers to inform the court when he is supposed to come back to India.
- The bench also directed Mallya to truthfully declare all his assets, including those of his spouse and children, besides appraising the court of the quantum of money he is willing to deposit with it to show his bonafide.
- The matter has been fixed for hearing next on April 26.
- On March 10, the bench had questioned the PSBs over advancing loans to Mallya and his companies without securing enough assets in guarantee. It had also issued a notice to Mallya who flew out of India on March 2, the day the banks sought the impounding of his passport as part of loan recovery proceedings.
5) Water crisis in jangalmahal school: NHRC asks state govt to submit report in two weeks.
- The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Wednesday issued notice to the West Bengal government, asking it to submit a report within two weeks on severe water shortage in a primary school in Jangalmahal area of the state.
- Taking suo motu cognizance of the report, the NHRC observed that it was “a serious issue of violation of rights to education and health of girl students enrolled in the school”.
- The Commission issued notices to the Chief Secretary, Government of West Bengal and District Magistrate, West Medinipur, asking them to submit a report in this regard within two weeks.
- Even as politicians flocked to the tribal-dominated area ahead of elections to inaugurate new toilets, no provisions were made to solve the chronic water shortage in Sahari village, which has been nicknamed as ‘Jangalmahal’s Sahara’.
- A protest by villagers last month forced the government to hurriedly install two plastic water tanks near the school on Monday – but that wasn’t enough to resolve the crisis.
- The 10 toilets were built in three spurts – four each were inaugurated before the 1999 and 2005 Assembly elections, when the Left Front was in power while the other two, with signs saying ‘Girl’s Toilet’, were built after the Trinamool Congress government took over in 2011.
- The solitary tubewell in this area was never upgraded until late last month, when the new tanks were set up.