New Delhi: A Letter of Intent between Ministry of Earth Sciences and UNESCO was signed here in New Delhi today in the presence of Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister of Science & Technology and Earth Sciences by Dr. Shailesh Nayak ,Secretary MoES and Ms. Irina Bokova, Director General, UNESCO in the field of Reducing Disaster Risks and Capacity Building In Earth Sciences .
Welcoming the agreement Dr Harsh Vardhan said it is a historic moment and will usher in opening new vista’s of cooperation in not only the Ocean related studies but other areas of cooperation in different fields of Scientific Acctivities. The Minister said as a founder member of the International Oceanographic Congress (IOC), India has always been actively associated with the major endeavors of IOC such as Global and Regional Ocean Observing and Capacity Building programs. He said some of the active areas of cooperation are as under:
• India had played a pivotal role in establishing a Regional Alliance in the Indian Ocean (GOOS-IOGOOS) as a part of the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS). The Secretariat of IOGOOS is currently located at the Earth System Science Organization ESSO-Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (ESSO-INCOIS) Hyderabad.
• The oceanographic Data Centre located at ESSO-INCOIS, Hyderabad, has been recognized as Regional Argo Data Centre as well as Responsible National Oceanographic Data Centre (RNODC) of International Oceanographic Data and Information Exchange (IODE) of IOC. India also serves as a regional node for the Northern Indian Ocean Biogeographic Information System (IndOBIS).
• Indian National Tsunami Warning System has also been recognized as Regional Tsunami Service Provider (RTSP) for the Indian Ocean.
• In response to ‘The Ocean Call’ from Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC)/UNESCO in June 2010 to its Member States for contributions towards the IOC’s efforts on capacity building, Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES), Government of India decided to establish an International Training Centre for Operational Oceanography (ITC Ocean) at the Earth System Science Organisation-Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (ESSO-INCOIS), Hyderabad. Subsequent to singing an MOU between IOC and ESSO-INCOIS on 4thCentre for Operational Oceanography (ITCOO) at Hyderabad, India. ITC Ocean started functioning formally by conducting a two week training course on ‘Fundamentals of Ocean Climate Modeling at Global and Regional Scales’ together with CLIVAR and International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP), Italy during 5-14 August 2013. Thirty participants drawn from the Indian Ocean rim countries attended that training course taught by the faculty participated from India, USA, Australia and Italy. Subsequently, ITCO ocean conducted another four training courses, covering different aspects of operational oceanography, for the trainees from Africa and Indian Ocean rim countries.
• India has also taken responsibility for coordination of activities relating to Celebration for articles for “Indian Ocean Bubble-2” has been issued along with a newsletter to now precipitate ideas for the successful execution of IIOE-2. International and national organizing committees have been setup for celebration of IIOE-2.
Government is focusing on a seven point agenda relating to the disability sector
The UNESCO’s International Conference “From Exclusion to Empowerment: Role of ICTs for Persons with Disabilities” was held here today. The inaugural session was addressed by Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad, Minister of Communications and Information Technology, Shri Thaawar Chand Gehlot, Minister for Social Justice & Empowerment, Smt. Smriti Zubin Irani, Minister of Human Resource Development and Ms Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO.
The following is the text of the speech by Union Minister of Social Justice & Empowerment, Shri Thaawar Chand Gehlot at the Conference: “My Government is focusing on a seven point agenda relating to the disability sector. These include enactment of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill to fulfil our international obligation post ratification of the UNCRPD; using technology to deliver low-cost, home-based education through e-learning; issue of Universal ID to each and every person with disability for availing government benefits; developing income generations models to ensure economic independence; ensuring access to public facilities, public buildings and transport; aid and support to voluntary organizations; and tax relief to the family members taking care of persons with disabilities.
“According to the Census of India 2011, there are 2.68 crore Persons with Disabilities in the country, which constitutes 2.2% of our population. In order to create an inclusive society, the Government, development partners, civil society and disability sector experts are working together to ensure protection of the rights of Persons with Disabilities through a range of early intervention services, protection of rights, provision of aids and assistive devices and promoting accessibility in public buildings. Inclusion means providing equal opportunities in education, skill development, economic empowerment and ensuring full participation of Persons with Disabilities in family, cultural and social life; in administrative and political spheres. It is our collective duty to ensure that Persons with Disabilities are empowered to lead a safe and dignified life as citizens of India.
“Day by day, new trends in science and technology have enabled ICT applications to meet the various needs of persons with disabilities. The Hon`ble Prime Minister of India has announced a nationwide campaign for a "Digital India" which would bring ICTs to the doorstep of every Indian citizen. The Prime Minister has emphasized the critical role ICTs play in good governance and in enhancing inclusive growth and development. This is an important opportunity to work towards integrating ICTs with a wide range of other offline systems and services.
“This high-level International Conference on the role of ICTs for persons with disabilities should contribute to meeting our vision of inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in India and worldwide and should benefit from a range of ICT -based applications. I hope that this Conference will give a new impetus to the partnerships and technological innovation efforts to improve the status of persons with disabilities and also combating poverty in developing countries. We trust this Conference will provide a road-map for a more inclusive society, which prevents discrimination and encourages participation of Persons with Disabilities in all spheres of life. I also hope that this conference also explores how best ICT could be used for the economic empowerment of PwDs”. Present on the occasion were MoS SJE, Vijay Sampla, Secretary, Department of Disability Smt. Stuti Kakkar, official of the Ministry and delegates from UNESCO.
Ms. Irina Bokova meets the Union Minister of HRD Smt. Smriti Irani
The Union Minister of Human Resource Development Smt. Smriti Zubin Irani had a meeting with Director General, UNESCO Ms. Irina Bokova. Ms. Bokova is on a three days visit to India on the invitation of the Union Minister of HRD. In the meeting, the Union HRD Minister welcomed DG, UNESCO and highlighted India’s achievements in Education for All and the new policy initiatives to consolidate on these achievements. The initiatives like “Beti Bachao- Beti Padhao”, Use of ICT in Education, Introduction of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), SWAYAM (Study Webs of Active-Learning for Young Aspiring Minds) as a massive platform for on-line learning, Emphasis on skill development for Make-in-India campaign, Quality of Education, Unnat Bharat Abhiyan and Initiatives for inclusive education etc. were discussed in the meeting. She also emphasized on strengthening the cooperation with UNESCO across all the areas of UNESCO’s competence. The Union Minister of HRD thanked the Director General UNESCO for relocating the statue of Shri Aurobindo in the UNESCO premises in Paris.
DG, UNESCO appreciated the initiatives taken by the Government of India in education and other sectors and highlighted the emerging role of India as a leader in different areas of socio-economic development, particularly for sustainable development. She also appreciated the achievements of India in different areas like Education, Culture, Heritage, Oceanography, Communication and Natural Sciences. DG UNESCO also commended the Swachachh Bharat Abhiyan and emphasized that it will have long term implications on the quality of life of the people in India.
UNESCO lauds Heritage City Development Programme (HRIDAY)
United Nations’ Educational, Social and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) has shown keenness to collaborate with the Ministry of Urban Development in implementing the ‘Heritage Development and Augmentation Yojana (HRIDAY). Ms.Irena Bokova, Director General, UNESCO today met Urban Development Minister Shri M.Venkaiah Naidu and discussed various aspects of preservation of rich cultural heritage of India. She has complimented the Government for the HRIDAY initiative.
Shri Venkaiah Naidu said that under HRIDAY, cultural soul of the cities and their people will be restored and preserved. He informed that 7 cities have been identified to start with which include-Amritsar, Ajmer, Benares, Mathura, Gaya, Kanchipuram and Vellankini. He said, UNESCO’s rich expertise could be useful in revitalising and conserving the rich cultural heritage. Shri Naidu and Ms.Bokova expressed concern over the pressures of urbanisation on cultural heritage.
Sanjay Trivedi is honorary editor of Asia Times. He is senior Indian Journalist having vast experience of 25 years. He worked in Janmabhoomi, Vyapar, Divya Bhaskar etc. newspapers and TV9 Channel as well as www.news4education.com. He also served as Media Officer in Gujarat Technological University.