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Press Statement by Prime Minister during the State visit of Prime Minister of Mauritius to India (May 27, 2017)

Your Excellency Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth

Members of the media

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It gives me great pleasure to welcome Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth and his delegation to India. We are truly honoured, Excellency, that you have chosen India for your first overseas visit after taking on the new responsibility as Prime Minister of Mauritius earlier this year. Your visit reflects the depth of our ties that have endured and enhanced over two centuries. And, our bonds are not limited to Governments. They extend to our people and societies who take pride in our shared roots. Our bonds have flourished despite time and distance. Today, they weave a rich tapestry of friendship in diverse areas.

Friends,

My discussions with Prime Minister Jugnauth have been warm and productive. Our conversation reminded me of my own memorable visit to Mauritius in March 2015. That visit, which was my first to the Indian Ocean region, gave us a robust agenda for cooperation. It also underscored the commonality of our values, interests and efforts.

Friends,

Today, we have taken another leap in our bilateral agenda. As frontline states of the Indian Ocean, Prime Minister Jugnauth and I agree that it is our responsibility to ensure collective maritime security around our coasts and in our EEZs. We agree that effective management of conventional and non-conventional threats in the Indian Ocean is essential to pursue economic opportunities; protect the livelihood of our communities, and provide security to our people. And, for this India-Mauritius cooperation is very very important.

We have to keep up our vigil against :

• Piracy that impacts trade and tourism;

• Trafficking of drugs and humans;

• Illegal fishing, and

• Other forms of illegal exploitation of marine resources

The conclusion of the bilateral Maritime Security Agreement today, will strengthen our mutual cooperation and capacities. We have also agreed to further strengthen our wide-ranging cooperation in hydrography for a secure and peaceful maritime domain. India is supporting the National Coast Guard of Mauritius in augmenting its capacity through Project Trident. We have also taken a decision to renew the life of the Coast Guard Ship Guardian, that was provided to Mauritius, under a grant assistance programme.

Friends,

A strong developmental partnership with Mauritius is a hallmark of our engagement. India is proud to participate actively in the ongoing development activities in Mauritius. The agreement today on a 500 million US dollars Line of Credit from India to Mauritius is a good example of our strong and continuing commitment towards the development of Mauritius. It will also help in the implementation of priority projects. Prime Minister Jugnauth and I welcome the progress in ongoing projects. India will extend full support for the timely execution of projects identified between our countries. Projects that will vitalize the economy of Mauritius and mark a qualitative transformation in our relations. In our discussions, we also focused on increasing skill development cooperation with Mauritius. It is an active part of our present interaction under India’s multiple capacity building programme with Mauritius. We are happy to further deepen our exchanges in this domain.

Friends,

We applaud the leadership shown by Prime Minister Jugnauth in drawing attention to the importance of renewable energy. The signing and ratification of the framework agreement on International Solar Alliance by Mauritius has opened up new vistas of regional partnership for both countries in this field.

Friends,

We take pride in this contribution of the Indian-origin community to the national life of Mauritius. To promote our thriving links with the diaspora in Mauritius, India had, in January this year, declared a special carve-out on OCI cards only for Mauritius. Our flag carrier airlines have agreed to enhance their code sharing arrangement to new destinations. This too is expected to lead to greater tourism and people-to-people contacts between our countries.

Friends,

Apart from bilateral issues, Prime Minister Jugnauth and I also exchanged views on a range of regional and global issues. We agreed to continue supporting each other in multilateral fora and cooperate closely on our common challenges and interests. Prime Minister Jugnauth’s visit will contribute to elevating our relationship to new heights on the bed-rock of our traditional links. I thank Prime Minister Jugnauth for his vision and support to our relationship. And I look forward to working closely with him in the coming months as we put into action the decisions we have taken today. Once again, I extend a warm welcome to Prime Minister Jugnauth and wish him a fruitful stay in India.

Thank you.

Thank you very much.

***

AKT/SH

Read more: Press Statement by Prime Minister during the...

Government focused on Integrated Development & Inclusive Growth

DD committed to provide truthful information & wholesome entertainment to people - Venkaiah Naidu

I&B Minister releases 14 short films produced by Doordarshan on success stories of various Flagship schemes of the Government

 

 

Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu, Minister for Information & Broadcasting has said that the focus of the Government under the leadership of Prime Minister has been on Integrated Development, Inclusive Growth and Good Governance. The Government in the last three years had taken various initiatives for the welfare of the people ensuring Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas. The 14 Short Films produced by Doordarshan showcased the success stories under various Flagship Schemes of the Government which had positively impacted people’s lives and had brought a transformational change in the country. The films have successfully portrayed the underlying development narrative through testimonials from the beneficiaries at the field level all across the country.  The Minister mentioned this while releasing the 14 short films produced by Doordarshan on various flagship schemes of the Government here today.

 

 

http://pibphoto.nic.in/documents/rlink/2017/may/i201752702.jpg

 

Speaking further, Shri Naidu said that these films would be showcased on all Doordarshan channels in Hindi and all other Indian languages with the purpose to motivate and inspire others also to use the benefits under various Flagship Schemes of the Government.  These films would also be used by all other Media units of the Ministry of I&B to enhance outreach across media platforms. Shri Naidu also mentioned that Ministry of I&B would be facilitating the outreach programmes of the Government through MODI (Making of Developed India) fests all across the country along with its media units.

            Speaking on the Freedish initiative of Doordarshan, Shri Naidu said that DD Free Dish was the largest free DTH Service available to the people in the country.  As per the recent estimates it has reached more than 22 million homes.  The Government has planned to further enhance the reach of DD Free Dish by distributing Free DD DTH boxes in the remote and interior areas of the country through State Governments, especially in the LWE impacted areas.  He also mentioned that the Ministry would be giving 10,000 DTH boxes to the Government of Chattisgarh for distribution in the LWE areas.

            The following themes have been covered in the short films produced by Doordarshan.

1.      Mission Indradhanush

2.      Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojna and Soil Health Card

3.      Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas

4.      Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana

5.      Skill India

6.      Beti Bachao Beto Padhao

7.      Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojna

8.      Kaushal Bharat Kushal Bharat

9.      Pradahn Mantri Jan Dhan Yojna

10.     National Solar Mission under Ujjwal Bharat

 

            Shri Naidu also highlighted that Doordarshan would be organising a Sports Conclave tomorrow i.e. 28th May, 2017 at its studios at Asiad Village New Delhi. Leading sports personalities, sports federations, editors from various sports magazines and newspapers would be participating in live discussions. DD sports would connect live with Varanasi, Guwahati and other places to interact with local players and State Authorities. The conclave would discuss the future of Indian sports and policy interventions required for India to become a formidable force.

 

CP/GV

Read more: Government focused on Integrated Development &...

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval to Raising of Bonds of Rs. 2360 crores for Renewable Energy.

 

The Bonds will be raised by the Ministry of New & Renewable Energy (MNRE) through the Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency (IREDA) during the 2017-18. These funds will be used by MNRE in the approved programmes/schemes for solar park, green energy corridor, generation-based incentives for wind projects, CPSU and defence solar projects, viability gap funding for solar projects, roof-top solar, off-grid/grid-distributed and decentralized renewable power, investment in corporations and autonomous bodies etc. Such timely investment would boost infrastructure in renewable sector and facilitate achievement of ambitious targets for the renewable energy sector.  The resources raised would be used for developing additional capacity in renewable energy sector which would result in generation of additional employment.

 

Background

 

            The Government had declared additional finance mobilization of Rs. 31,300 crore bonds through NHAI, PFC, REC, IREDA and IWAI in the budget for FYT 2016-17. As a part of this, the Government had allocated Rs. 4000 crores to IREDA to raise “GOI fully serviced taxable Bonds” on behalf of the MNRE during the FY 2016-17. Out of this allocation, IREDA had raised Rs. 1640 crores as per the requirement of MNRE. The MNRE subsequently approached the Cabinet,   to approve raising  of the balance Rs. 2360 crores in the year 2016-17.

 

***

 

AKT/SH

 

Read more: Cabinet approves Raising of Bonds of Rs. 2360...

 “Excellency and friends from OPEC, it is indeed a pleasure to meet you all here at OPEC headquarters.

·         Just before joining you all in this Hall, I had a very good meeting with the Secretary General. We briefly discussed issues that concern both India and OPEC.
 

·         I am happy that we are able to meet at regular intervals to share with each other our perspectives on the global hydrocarbon sector.
 

·         I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for the arrangements made for this 2ndIndia-OPEC Institutional Dialogue, just prior to the OPEC Ministerial scheduled two days later.
 

·         I have brought a Group-7 of Indian Refiners. My delegation includes 7 Chief Executives from public and private sector, who head all 23 refineries in India processing 235 Million Metric Ton of crude annually or 4.7 Million Barrel per day capacity. They are important stakeholders, as they import 4 million barrel per day of crude and refine it and market it both in domestic and international markets.

Excellency and friends,

·         The India-OPEC dialogue is an important mechanism for us. I would like to give you a general perspective about India’s energy landscape. My colleagues will make detailed presentations during the course of the day.
 

·         Our Government is committed to provide clean and affordable fuel to all citizens of India. Lot of people still do not have ready access to quality energy, and we are expanding access of energy to the poor and excluded segment of the society.
 

·         In the energy sector, the priorities of the government are:

- Energy access
- Energy efficiency
- Energy sustainability
- Energy security
 

·         Towards achieving this, we have introduced several policies and reforms in the hydrocarbon sector. With the reforms and schemes the consumption of petroleum products is fast growing. We are also able to increase the penetration of fossil fuel in the country. With the shifting economic paradigm to the global East we plan to do much more.
 

·         Under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, India is having the most stable political situation with solid macroeconomics. We are largely insulated from global slowdown. We have inflation under control, our current account deficit and fiscal deficit are under control.
 

·         Coming to the India-OPEC dialogue, it is crucial for us as we import about 86% of our crude, 70% of natural gas, 95% of cooking gas from the OPEC countries.
 

·         We expect this dialogue mechanism to be a useful tool to convey our position to the OPEC member countries.
 

·         During my last visit to Vienna for the 6th OPEC International Seminar in 2015, I had raised the issue of ‘Asian Dividend not Asian Premium’. The issue of Asian Premium still continues to exist. Our companies pay billions of dollars on this account. They still don't understand the rationale of this cross subsidisation of tariff between West and the East.
 

·         OPEC should treat Asian markets as Primary markets. It's  strategy of incentivising Western markets in the past did not result in retaining those markets.
 

·         I am fully aware that OPEC member countries are in the business of selling oil and not subsidising it. However, my purpose of raising this issue again today is to say that don’t subsidise others at our expense. I urge the OPEC and through you also to Non-OPEC countries to purposefully consider this.
 

·         The other issue I have been raising is that OPEC should work towards “Responsible Price” which would allow major consuming countries to provide energy to the common people. Higher prices would force them to go for alternate forms of energy which would be slowing down the demand of crude oil.
 

·         The energy mix in India in last 3 years has changed with renewables coming in a big way and pricing of solar energy coming down to 4 cents per unit. There is huge pressure to shift focus to solar, wind, Electric Vehicles, Hybrid cars etc. Yesterday I saw video of Lockheed Martin developing Hybrid Aircrafts. We need to realise that the oil Industry is at a delicate cross road and higher crude prices will give a further push to renewables.
 

·         I believe the purpose of setting up this Institutional Dialogue is to exactly serve this purpose, and to have a dialogue between OPEC as a producer and India as a consumer, to sensitise each other’s concerns and to better understand our perspectives.

 

Excellency and Friends,

·         I would like to inform that India is growing consistently at a rate above 7 % annually. The growth rate in the energy sector is over 7-8%, which is double the rate of many developed markets. With increasing demand and consumption, we are increasing imports and also our refining capacity.
 

·         Today, our annual refining capacity is 235 MMT of which 194 MMT of products are consumed domestically, while the rest is exported. At the same time our energy consumption is expected to double in the next 15 years. We are in fact net exporters of Gasoline, Naptha, Jet fuel and Gas oil. We are in the process of increasing our refining capacity around 310 MMT by 2023. India is fast becoming a refinery hub.
 

·         We are also investing about US$ 80 billion in Petrochemicals in next 3-5 years.

·         Excellency and friends,

·         India has three important resources:

i.  Technology;
ii.  Human resources; and one which connects these two
iii. Market, in fact one of the largest markets.

·         This is supplemented by a strong, dynamic leadership of Prime Minister Modi.
 

·         Technology has changed the very fundamentals of our industry. In India it has helped us to become more effective and efficient. We have been able to set up complex and efficient refineries and petrochemical complexes in India. These refineries can refine all kinds of crude from different parts of the world.
 

·         Indian engineers today have mastered the technology in refining sector and have set up large and complex refineries with high efficiency. Last year our engineers built a state-of-the-art refinery in Paradip in the Eastern part of India. It is one of the most advanced refineries in India with a Nelson index of 14. It is our effort to continuously upgrade our personnel to meet global industry standards.
 

·         Presently, India’s per capita energy consumption is 0.55 tons of oil equivalent, which is far below the global average of 1.9 tons of oil equivalent. The energy consumption is expected to grow to almost double by 2035.
 

·         All the three factors  have placed India in a very unique position which makes us an important customer who cannot be neglected. There are similar customers in our part of the world, however, India is the only country where the demand will continue to rise for more than a decade.
 

·         This is where the need for revisiting our engagement with OPEC is felt important.
 

·         I would like to highlight that there is a vast resource base of non-conventional oil and gas to explore and develop. In fact, the revolution in shale technology in the USA is an important contributor to today’s level of oil prices.
 

·         I would like to also underline here the importance of market. In today’s oversupplied market, it is important for producers to understand the perspective of consumers and demand centres and the changes that have taken place in these demand centres.
 

·         As the security of supplies is an important factor for consumers, security of demand is equally important for producers.
 

·         I understand that energy security is a full circle. We all know that production cut is an attempt to arrest the slide in prices, however, it also has an inherent chance of under investment and consumer’s needs not being met in the long run, which is not in the interest of a balanced and healthy global oil and gas market. We are not just sellers and buyers, we are Energy Partners.
 

·         Given the technological advances and scenarios that might develop and in order to benefit from the available global spread of energy resource base, we are engaged with several non-traditional producers and suppliers. Our Group of Seven Refiners, who are here today, are working out details of the strategy to buy cargos, including from the USA and Canada, which happens to be becoming very competitive.
 

·         Our government is working to make India as a gas based economy. We are creating several gas based infrastructure in India, including adding of another 14,000 kms of gas pipelines to the existing 16,000 kms pipelines. We are building mega refineries, petrochemical complexes and LNG terminals.
 

·         In this context, we are confident that the India-OPEC engagement will prove to be a very productive dialogue mechanism to grow together.

Thank you.”

*****

RG

 

Read more: Complete text of opening remarks by Minister of...

The record of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) during its three years in power has been impressive, judging by macroeconomic parameters, especially inflation.

Politically too, the BJP has seen unprecedented ascendancy by wresting back power in Uttar Pradesh in March after a gap of 15 years and expanding its electoral footprint to the North-East. This in part explains why Prime Minister Narendra Modi remains India’s most popular political leader.

ALSO READ: Timeline of policy initiatives in three years of Modi government

Still, controversies associated with the actions of fringe saffron groups have left the BJP vulnerable to criticism. The next general election is due in 2019 and, to a large extent, the outcome will depend on Modi’s management of the optics and his government’s ability to generate jobs to meet the growing aspirations of voters.

Here is a look at the key themes of the NDA’s three years in power.

CONNECTIVITY

Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurating the UDAN regional connectivity scheme in Shimla. Photo: Hindustan Times

Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurating the UDAN regional connectivity scheme in Shimla. Photo: Hindustan Times

Positive

1. New integrated transportation initiative for roads, railways, waterways and civil aviation.

2. Sagarmala and Bharatmala programmes for the construction of new ports and expressways.

3. UDAN (Ude Desh ka Aam Naagrik) regional connectivity scheme with fares starting at about Rs2,500.

Negative

1. Increasing number of railway accidents.

2. 23km per day of highway construction achieved vis-a-vis a target of 41km.

3. Air India’s finances are still precarious. The national carrier is still grappling with legacy issues.

TERROR, DEFENCE AND FOREIGN POLICY

 India carried out surgical strikes across the Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir. Photo: Tauseef Mustafa/AFP

India carried out surgical strikes across the Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir. Photo: Tauseef Mustafa/AFP

Positive

1. Carried out surgical strikes across the Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir, resumed cordon and search operations in more than 20 villages in Shopian.

2. Combing operations launched against Maoists in Chhattisgarh.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “neighbourhood diplomacy” falling in place as relations with Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka look up.

Negative

1. No strategy to pre-empt rebel attacks on security personnel in districts where Maoists are active.

2. Ties with Pakistan and China are icy despite Prime Minister Modi making trips to both countries (a December 2015 stopover in the former).

3. Relations with Russia—India’s once time-tested friend—too seem to be in the doldrums.

FARMERS

The Narendra Modi government has set an ambitious goal to double farm incomes in real terms by 2022. Photo: Mint

The Narendra Modi government has set an ambitious goal to double farm incomes in real terms by 2022. Photo: Mint

Positive

1. New crop insurance scheme and higher funding for irrigation to counter weather risks.

2. Set an ambitious goal to double farm incomes in real terms by 2022, moving away from the historical focus on increasing production.

3. Initiated a range of marketing reforms to create a “one nation, one market” in agriculture.

Negative

1. Decline in wholesale prices of vegetables and pulses has dented farm incomes.

2. A loan waiver in Uttar Pradesh led to a moral hazard problem and delay in repayment of loans in other states.

3. Acute drought in southern states led to a spike in farm suicides.

GREEN ECONOMY AND ENERGY

Clean and renewable energy generation has got a boost under the Narendra Modi government. Photo: Bloomberg

Clean and renewable energy generation has got a boost under the Narendra Modi government. Photo: Bloomberg

Positive

1. Push for electric vehicles.

2. Rs42,000 crore unlocked for afforestation with Parliament passing The Compensatory Afforestation Fund Bill, 2016.

3. Clean and renewable energy generation gets a boost.

Negative

1. Neglect of the forest and wildlife sectors. Decisions pending on a national forest policy, definition of forests, inviolate forest areas and a national wildlife action plan.

2. Activists allege that the government is favouring industries and indiscriminately giving green clearances, ignoring the toll taken on the environment.

3. Ganga clean-up is yet to gather momentum.

FISCAL SITUATION

Demonetisation drive led to short-term cash crunch, hit small and medium enterprises. Photo: Ramesh Pathania/Mint

Demonetisation drive led to short-term cash crunch, hit small and medium enterprises. Photo: Ramesh Pathania/Mint

Positive

1. Got states on board to introduce the goods and services tax (GST), the biggest tax reform since independence.

2. Crackdown on black money leads to a surge in 2016-17 tax receipts, number of return filers.

3. Merger of railway budget with Union budget and shifting budget presentation date to 1 February from 28 February.

Negative

1. Demonetisation drive led to short-term cash crunch, hit small and medium enterprises.

2. Pending cases of retrospective taxation on past transactions still unresolved.

3. Inability to bring back black money stashed away abroad by citizens.

POLITICS

The Narendra Modi government, in the past three years, has achieved unanimity on the economic reforms agenda with high parliamentary productivity. Photo: PTI

The Narendra Modi government, in the past three years, has achieved unanimity on the economic reforms agenda with high parliamentary productivity. Photo: PTI

Positive

1. Getting unanimity on the economic reforms agenda with high parliamentary productivity.

2. Series of electoral gains puts the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) on the political forefront.

3. Expanding voter base of the BJP to Dalits and other backward classes, focus on expansion in the North-East.

Negative

1. Failure to get consensus on reform policies like a proposed land bill.

2. Allegations of toppling elected state governments.

3. Problems within the NDA: the Peoples Democratic Party (Jammu and Kashmir), Shiv Sena (Maharashtra) and Telugu Desam Party (Andhra Pradesh) are annoyed with the BJP leadership.

EMPOWERMENT—SOCIAL SAFETY, EDUCATION, JOBS, GENDER

The Narendra Modi government has also introduced graded autonomy to promote quality in education. Photo: Mint

The Narendra Modi government has also introduced graded autonomy to promote quality in education. Photo: Mint

Positive

1. Graded autonomy to promote quality in education.

2. Slew of social security measures to benefit the working class.

3. Six months of paid maternity leave for working women.

Negative

1. The Women’s Reservation Bill is still pending.

2. New Education Policy still to be formulated.

3. Job creation yet to pick up pace.

MINDSET CHANGE

Narendra Modi has launched Swachh Bharat Mission to eliminate open defecation and promote cleanliness. Photo: AFP

Narendra Modi has launched Swachh Bharat Mission to eliminate open defecation and promote cleanliness. Photo: AFP

Positive

1. Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched to eliminate open defecation and promote cleanliness.

2. Soviet-style five-year plans come to an end; 15-year vision, three-year action plan come into play.

3. Cashless economy.

Negative

1. Hyper-nationalism as seen through the lens of social media trolling and rise of vigilante groups with little regard for human life.

2. Rise of vigilante groups with political agendas who attack minorities.

3. In spite of stricter laws, greater awareness and even campaigns, violence against women continues unabated.

DIGITAL AND COMMUNICATIONS

The Narendra Modi government has leveraged Aadhaar for improving service delivery to citizens, but leakage of biometric data has raised questions on that move. Photo: Ramesh Pathania/Mint

The Narendra Modi government has leveraged Aadhaar for improving service delivery to citizens, but leakage of biometric data has raised questions on that move. Photo: Ramesh Pathania/Mint

Positive

1. Improving e-infrastructure, e-participation and government e-services for addressing transparency.

2. Unified Payments Interface (UPI)—a payment system that allows mobile-enabled money transfers between bank accounts. Promotion of the Bharat Interface for Money (BHIM) for a less-cash economy.

3. Leveraging Aadhaar for improving service delivery to citizens.

Negative

1. Call drops continue despite mobile phone services providers promising improvement.

2. Drop in digital payment transactions with the easing of a cash crunch that followed the demonetisation of high-value banknotes in November.

3. Leakage of Aadhaar data.

OPTICS

The Narendra Modi government has banned the red beacon—a symbol of so-called VIP culture—from all government vehicles. Photo: Hindustan Times

The Narendra Modi government has banned the red beacon—a symbol of so-called VIP culture—from all government vehicles. Photo: Hindustan Times

Positive

1. Doing away with the red beacon—a symbol of so-called VIP culture—from all government vehicles.

2. Extending support to ending the practice of triple talaq.

3. Introducing the Beti Bachao Beti Padhao (save the girl child, educate the girl child) scheme.

Negative

1. Rise of vigilante groups called Gau Rakshaks, who target people suspected of harming cows or consuming beef.

2. Launch of the anti-Romeo squads in Uttar Pradesh, ostensibly to protect women from harassment, but seen widely as moral policing.

3. Ghar Wapsi (homecoming), aimed at promoting the conversion of non-Hindus to Hinduism, and campaign against Love Jihad, allegedly practised by Muslim men to win over Hindu women.

 

 

Read more: Three years of Modi government: A report card

Poverty elimination cannot be ensured in Africa without ensuring energy security: Shri Goyal

Shri Piyush Goyal launches 3rd ISA programme on 'Scalling Up Minigrids and Microgrids' in the annual meeting of African development bank today

Union Minister of State for New & Renewable Energy, Power, Coal and Mines Shri Piyush Goyal launched 3rd International Solar Alliance programme on 'Scalling Up Minigrids and Microgrids' at the annual meeting of African Development Bank in Gandhinagar, Gujarat today. He urged all African nations to participate in the international Solar Alliance more actively to get benefit out of the partnership of solar energy rich countries. Shri Goyal made these remarks while participating in a panel discussion on ‘Africa-India Cooperation on Powering Africa - Strengthening ISA and Africa-India RE Partnership’.

Expressing his views on eradicating poverty from Africa, Shri Goyal said Africa has to ensure the use of renewable energy. Poverty cannot be eliminated without ensuring energy security. As the African continent is rich in Solar energy, African nations must use this natural resource for poverty alleviation.

Union Minister emphasized that electricity is no more luxury but necessity. “Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi's vision is to connect every single home with electricity by 2022, the 75th anniversary of India's independence. But my ministry and all the state governments are working hard to achieve this goal by 2019 as we believe that a day without electricity is a day wasted from the life of the poor people, he added.

Shri Piyush Goyal said India is inviting all African nations to use our experiences and modern technology. He said, India would love to share its experience and industrial expertise with Africa and this is not out of the sympathy but out of the empathy, historical and cultural heritage that India-Africa shared and the desire to work as one family.

Shri Bhanu Pratap Yadav, Joint Secretary, Ministry of New and renewable Energy, Shri A K Tripathi, Director General, National Institute Solar Energy, O S Sastry, Head, R&D, Interim Secretariat of International Solar Alliance and other dignitaries were also present at the occasions.

KSP/J.Khunt

Read more: Poverty elimination cannot be ensured in Africa...

 

Shri Pradhan emphasised on ‘Asian Dividend rather than paying Asian Premium’

 

Stressed on work towards “Responsible Pricing” by OPEC; important for India for socio-economic and developmental reasons

 

The production cut is an attempt to arrest slide in prices; But there is chance of under investment and consumer’s needs not being met in long run

 

 

The Minister of State (I/C) for Petroleum and Natural Gas, Shri Dharmendra Pradhan visited Vienna, Austria to co-chair the 2nd India-OPEC Institutional Dialogue at the OPEC headquarters. The meeting took place two days prior to the OPEC Ministerial meeting that is scheduled from 25th May.

Shri Pradhan held a one-to-one meeting with the Secretary General of OPEC Mr Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo. Later he discussed bilateral issues of interest at a delegation level dialogue. Shri Pradhan highlighted the importance of India – OPEC engagement and discussed on the effects of the production cut of 1.8 mbpd by OPEC and non-OPEC countries on the global oil market volatility.

The Minister said that India had been and continued to be a reliable customer of OPEC countries, the only big economy where the demand for crude oil continues to rise each year. About 86% if India’s import of crude oil, 70% of natural gas, 95% of LPG are from OPEC countries. Shri Pradhan alos informed about the increasing refining capacity of India and future expansion plans. He also briefed OPEC about the expanding petrochemical sector in India.

 In this context, Shri Pradhan underlined the importance of market and reiterated the need to intensify bilateral dialogue to change the nature of engagement from a buyer-seller relationship to an Energy Partnership. He added that in today’s oversupplied market, it was important for producers to understand the perspective of consumers and the demand centers and the changes that have taken place in these demand centres. He stressed on the fact that while the security of supplies was important for consuming countries, the security of demand was equally important for producers. In this context, he emphasised the importance of a purposeful and improved dialogue among producer and consumer countries, particularly benefitting India as a fast growing market.

Shri Pradhan reiterated that as a large import destination there should be no ‘Asian Premium’ on the crude supplied to India and Asian buyers. He highlighted that India provided timely payments and honored all its contractual commitments and demanded due acknowledgment through discount in prices for large volumes that India imports. He added that for a long time OPEC subsidised western buyers at the cost of Asian buyers. Given the importance of Asian market for OPEC, particularly fast growing Indian market which stood by OPEC as a reliable and continued customer, Shri Pradhan emphasised on ‘Asian Dividend rather than paying Asian Premium’. 

The Minister also stressed that the OPEC should work towards “Responsible Pricing” which is important for India for socio-economic and developmental reasons. It would allow India to provide energy to the common and marginalised people who have been deprived of access to energy so far. Higher crude prices would retard growth rate which will result in slowing down the demand of crude oil.

 

The Minister highlighted that the Energy Mix in India is undergoing major changes with renewables coming in a big way and pricing of solar energy coming down to 4 cents per unit. There is also a shift in focus to solar, wind, biomass, Electric Vehicles, Hybrid cars etc. He emphasised that the oil Industry is at a delicate cross road and higher crude prices will give a further push to renewables.

 

On the proposed plan of continued production cut by OPEC and non-OPEC countries, Shri Pradhan said that energy security was a full circle. He said that while the production cut is an attempt to arrest the slide in prices, however, it also has an inherent chance of under investment and consumer’s needs not being met in the long run, which is not in the interest of a balanced and healthy global oil and gas market.

The Minister was accompanied by Secretary for Petroleum and Natural Gas, Indian Ambassador in Vienna and CEOs of seven large refiners of India,  both from public and private sector including IOCL, HPCL, BPCL, MRPL, HMEL,  Reliance and Essar. The CEOs also emphasised their points of view during the OPEC meeting.

This was the first time that both public sector and private refiners from India came together to present their common issues, concerns and demands before the OPEC.

Shri Pradhan thanked the Secretary General for hosting the meeting. It was agreed that India will host the next meeting during 2018.

 

 

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RG

 

 

 

Read more: Petroleum Minister co chairs India OPEC...

I welcome all the members of Brahmakumari Organisation, and the participants in this International cultural festival. I also salute all of you by chanting “Aum shanti”. The soul of the founder of Prajapita Brahmakumari Ishwariy University Dada Lekhraj must have been happy today to see that his thought that shaped this institution into a movement through women power has now completed 80 years. In our nation turning 80 years has special significance. Though the world generally celebrates 25 years, 50 years, 75 years and 100 years, but in India 80 years of age is considered as a specific incident. And when a person or institution becomes 80 year old, it is like an occasion of seeing full moon 1000th times.

 Today is that moment of witnessing full moon 1000th time for Brahmakumari Vishvavidyalaya, a movement started by Dada Lekh Raj. His efforts of bringing peace to human race on this globe will gain new momentum and move ahead.

 Dadi Janaki ji completed her centenary last year; she is 100 plus. She is still blessing us like a Karmyogi and has also spared her time today for us. From here I wish Dadi ji. Two days later “Cheti Chand”, a festival of New Year (Samvatsar) will be celebrated across the country. I also extend  you all my hearty greetings on the occasion of  Nav-Samvatsar and Cheti Chand.

 I got a number of opportunities to be amongst you and I am grateful to you for the affection showered on me. For an institute 80 years timeframe is not a  short period. In today’s scenario any institution gets disintegrated after 10,15 or 20 years. Groupism and factionsim starts. Ten institutions comes into existence out of one. It was because of the wisdom of Dada Lekhraj ji that the values and vision with which he established  Brahmakumari Vishvishavidyalaya and Brahmakumari Movement is still enlightening the rest of world with the same dedication, vitality and commitment and has created a chain of lakhs of workers. The Brahmakumars and Brahmakumaris are actively spreading the message of Indian spirituality in the entire world. You all deserve accolade and honour. I salute you all.

 I am lucky to be amongst you many a time and have witnessed your calibre. I have tried to understand your philosophy.

 Currently I am more pre-occupied and hardly get any spare time. Though I am not physically present in front of you all, I have the opportunity to connect through video conferencing. Brahmakumari work- plan is always unique. I noticed today that you all wished me through the lighting of Torches, and on TV I can see that the way you have tried to lighten the premises through torches is in reality an attempt of spreading the light  of wisdom in the world  on the lines established by Dada Lekhraj ji and Dadi ji.  

 We represent a nation that never believes in forcing its ideology on others. We are of the view that knowledge has no boundary and no timeframe. No passport or visa is required for knowledge. Knowledge is a human asset for  ages; it transents time limit, and ever new. We are able to attain the facts of life only treading that knowledge path.

 This continuous effort by Brahmakumari is the uniqueness of India. This is a nation that has told the world with authority that God is One. He is known by varied names. Separate God for Hindus, different ones for Muslims, Christian and Persians- it’s not our concept. So even in the days of Vedas our great men and sages taught us: एकसमत, विप्रा:, बहुधा वदन्ति

 Truth is one, sages call it in different ways.

 Different people interpret it in different ways but our approach to ‘truth’ is driven by the same feelings.

  I have heard that you are opening a Solar Project in Shanti Van today. Once I had visited your Shanti Van hospital. There I came across the great service rendered by your to the poor. Your impressive efforts in the field of  Solar Energy today reminds me of your decision taken years ago to run your Abu Road premises and that too at a time when Global Warming was not a hot topic as is now. Its a vibrant example of your vision.  Hence its my belief that under your guidance  one energy revolution has just started  in the country as well as in the day to day life of humanity. I can visualise that the  importance of solar power is no less than the valour of a human being. And when valour, capability and resolve come together, a person can scale new heights. I am sure that your initiative taken today  for 3 Mega Watt Solar Energy Plant is going to propel things in many ways.

 Gujarat took a very grand initiative for solar energy years ago. That became a catalyst in encouraging other states to think about solar energy. The Gujarat experiment was a success. Today Shanti Van is also getting associated with it. It is a work to save nature. It will be possible to prepare food  for 38 thousand people in one day using this solar plant. How enormous work you are doing to save the nature! In a campaign mode you have started home delivery of Solar Lantern, Home lighting systems, Solar Cooking Boxes etc. This is an effort for a massive change in the society. Instead of preaching spirituality you have opted to coexist  with nature by working relentlessly in bringing change in the life of the poorest of the poor.

 Now how India can work for the rest of world in tackling the Global Warming? India’s resolve is by 2030 that is within 13 years from now we have aimed that 40 per cent of our total energy requirement will be generated from non-fossil fuel based renewable energy.

 India will celebrate 75 years of its independence in the year 2022. What initiatives in the area of Solar Energy we can take by then? India has resolved to generate 175 Giga Watt renewable energy. It’s a gigantic target of the Government, and the society and institutions will achieve that. Just the way you have started this 3 Mega Watt units. The more we use this the more we are going to serve humanity, nature and the almighty. I salute you for your  contribution in this field. You are working for nature’s conservation in many ways. It will benefit the country to a great extent.

 Similarly, Green Revolution, White Revolution and Energy Revolution are in a way saving the nature and will guide mankind to a new direction. I congratulate you for your involvement in these areas  too. Government of India has taken one more action in the field of Energy Conservation and that is distribution of LED Bulbs. Today more than 22 crore LED bulbs are being used by Municipalities, corporations and common men resulting in the saving of nearly 11 thousand crore rupees.

 Now you have 8500 Brahmakumari Centres with lakhs of volunteers. As you have shown a new way to society by using solar energy, the same can be done for LED bulbs. Your volunteers are capable of creating awareness in the country for the use of LED bulbs. This will save energy leading to money saving for the poor. Municipalities and corporations will also save money that could be utilised for other purposes. Earlier an LED bulb used to cost Rs. 400-500. Now that is available for Rs. 50-60. So this can be added to the task of Brahamkumaris in addition to their current assignments.

 Today we are dependent on Imported Diesel and Petrol. If we promote and put stress on wind energy, hydro power, solar energy then the millions and trillions of rupees currently being incurred on the purchase of Petroleum will be saved and that could be utilysed for the poor. Your contribution is a right step in that direction and hence you deserve this praise.

 Our Scriptures have forbidden us to exploit the nature and it is considered to be a sin. We are only allowed of milking of the nature and using it judiciously and for that your initiative is going to be fruitful.

 The Mantra of Brahmakumari’s  Institution- One God, One Global Family is basically rooted in the ethos of our country. Such a great and eternal thought of “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” can perhaps take shape only in this land. It may have different expressions and wordings from time to time, but only India is in constant quest for attaining justice, pride, opportunity and prosperity of all in this world. These are the initiatives of India that has been reflected in the International Solar Alliance aimed to save nature and the rest of the countries in the world have joined us in this movement. Today in this function on the occasion of your 80th anniversary I urge you all to think about the 75th year of Indian Independence in 2022. Are we not bound to fulfil the dreams cherished by our freedom fighters who laid down their lives in that struggle? Is it not our collective responsibility to work for fulfilment of those dreams? We should work with a resolve unitedly in the right direction. And any change brought about in the lives of such a huge population will also become a platform for global welfare. You have assembled in such a large number. Now take a pledge whatever you deem fit. 2,3,5 or 7  units and accomplish this task by 2022 through your branches spread across the country and abroad. And see the magnitude of your involvement. What is now happening in India on the solar energy sector, …..I am sure you will complement it with your efforts.

 Recently you have witnessed that after demonetization we have proceeded for  a decisive fight against black money and corruption. In order to save the nation from going back towards black money once again, the  Digital Technology can be of much use. We can develop a transparent system in which there should be minimum cash usage and maximum digital payments. Can all the  Brahmakumars and Brahmakumaris wherever they are working effectively download the BHIM App in their respective mobiles and try to do away with cash payment  through digital payments to small vendors? Today I am talking to you through digital technology; but I have such a relation with you that I think, can ask you to lay emphasis on this task so that your enormous cultured manpower could become a harbinger of change in the country.

 In addition to Brahmakumars, Brahmakumaris are more energetic and active. A large number of children in our country are still deprived of immunisation. Due to this they are prone to diseases. Mother and infant mortality rates as well as malnutrition are a matter of concern. Government is desirous of implementing  the immunisation work  in a big manner to each household with commitment and accountability under the  Indradhanush Yojana. The Brahmakumars and Brahmakumaris must associate with it as volunteers in the future immunisation drives and be a life saviour for infants and this will be a great service indeed. You are already serving the humanity; so opting this in addition will be a marked achievement.

 For one more thing I will urge you. Is Brahmakumari Vishvavidyalaya in a position to  start an Online Certificate Course for Nutrition? Then the people of this country could be educated  and motivated to appear in online examination on the subject of nutrition. Still there is a lot of misconception in this area. What diet should be taken in a particular age is also not known to many people. Most of the people think twice a day meal is sufficient. Even financially well off persons, who can afford quality food twice a day are not aware of the basic facts; what to eat and when and how to eat?  Is it possible to start an online  certificate course followed by online examination on such issues related with nutrition and adverse effects of malnutrition  by Brahmakumar Vishvavidyalaya? And whether all the Universities in India could be brought under its ambit? Majority of the members of your institution are women. So women too have an active role to play. To solve nutrition problem and pulling out our children from malnutrition you can contribute in a big way. I request you to think about it. I will ask Government of India and State Governments as well to extend you a helping hand and provide whatever necessary assistance is required  we have to take it up as a movement.

 If our daughters who are studying in class IXth, Xth, Xith and XIIth are educated in Nutrition, then certainly they will control the kitchen after getting involved  in household chores. Even if they become professionals, they will have an edge on the kitchen matters. You can imagine the tremendous change you can bring in. This can be done through your involvement and so I am inviting you to take a pledge for making it happen by 2022.

 Government of India has taken a number of steps towards women empowerment.  You have seen that we have increased the maternity  leave admissible to working women class from the present 12 weeks to 26 weeks. This will enable her to give full time to rear her child at that time when it is most required as the initial months of an infant are highly critical so far as his overall  development is concerned. A mother’s presence during this time can play an important role. Probably there are only 2 or 3 nations that are giving more than 26 weeks holiday. Even the developed and progressive countries are not giving 26 weeks maternity leave. Government of India has taken such a huge step because  empowerment of our mothers and sisters can instil a new energy and accelerate in the strengthening of our country and can lead us to high end successes.

 Now be it Kanya Samruddhi Yojana, the Scheme for providing 6000 Rupees in three instalments in bank accounts of expecting mothers or Pradhan Mantri Surakshit Matrutva Abhiyan we have taken a number of initiatives. We have recently launched a big drive under the Ujjwala Yojana. Our mother and sisters from poor community used to cook meals with firewood and as per medical fraternity, preparing food with firewood results in inhaling smoke equivalent to 400 cigarettes a day. Children playing around them also inhale the same. In such a situation what will happen to the health of those mother and sisters? Government of India has taken a big initiative with the intention of giving freedom from cooking on firewood stoves. For that, a massive campaign of issuing LPG connections was launched. This campaign is in progress and nearly two crore gas cylinders have reached to the poor families. They got rid of firewood stoves and gas stoves are being used in their homes. We have decided to make it available to 5 crore families within three years.

 Now our emphasis is on empowering our mothers and women. Brahmakumaris can contribute in a big way in it. I request you to work for it more sincerely although you have many other things in hand. But your proactive approach in these drives will result in big results indeed.

 Once again I got a chance to join your assembly. Nature conservation, protection of mother power and efforts of bringing changes in the life of the children are important issues. People from different parts of the world have gathered here for a noble cause and they will carry great thoughts of Indian ethos emanated from here. The enlightenment of knowledge from here will reach far away lands and will be utilised for the welfare of mankind. Your efforts will lend a new energy to the initiatives of Dada Lekh Raj ji and the pain taken by our 100 year old Dadi Ji will continue to motivate and inspire the new generations and people will gain a new strength for accomplishing their tasks.

 Dadi ji had been our brand ambassador in my Swacch Bharat Abhiyan (Clean India Drive). Dadi ji has strengthened Swacch Bharat Abhiyan through Brahmakumaris. I am sure that our Brahmakumars and Brahmakumaris in white attaire are capable of strengthening cleanliness drive in a massive way.

 So with such commitments we have to continue till 2022. And in 2019, the year of 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi we have to reach the final destination of making cleanliness a habit of every one and every house hold.

 Today I am amidst you  and I am urging you for some commitments. I am sure you will fulfil it. You are brimming with capability, institutional strength and resolve along with piously motivated workers. You can deliver results. Once again I whole heartedly welcome all the dignitaries coming from across the world and expect your kind cooperation in spreading this message of knowledge.

 I am grateful to you all for giving me a chance to be amidst you. Om Shanti, Om Shanti, Om Shanti.

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AKT/AK

Read more: English Rendering of Text of PM’s address at the...

Union Minister of State (IC)for Power, Coal, New & Renewable Energy and Mines, Shri Piyush Goyal launched the Saral Eindhan Vitaran Application (SEVA), developed in-house by Coal India Limited (CIL) for power sector consumers, here today. SEVA is a part of Digital India initiative, which is aimed at increasing the Consumer Connect as well as the Transparency and Accountability in Coal dispatch.

 

Addressing the gathering, Shri Goyal said that this app, along with other such apps of various Ministries of Government of India, are in line with Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi’s vision of “Easy, Effective, Economical and Transparent Governance.” Shri Goyal further informed that for the benefit of all the citizens, the links for all mobile apps regarding Ministries of Power, Coal, NRE and Mines would be sent to the respective mobile number from which a missed call on the designated toll free number 1800 200 300 4 is given.

 

The Minister added that this Government believes in suo motu dissemination of information of larger public interest and ‘m-governance’ would be the key to achieve this goal. These people-centric mobile apps would make the citizen empowered and hold the Government accountable for its decisions through increased transparency.

 

Talking about the SEVA app, the Minister said that there is a general perception that an app related to Coal dispatch would not be of importance for the common man. Contrary to this view, Shri Goyal said, by using this app the common man would be able to hold the Government accountable for the coal linkage allocations and would be able to check any pilferage or inefficiencies in coal consumption for power generation. This would, in turn, lead to rationalization of coal linkages and finally reduction in the power prices in the country. In near future , non-power sector mines would also be added in this App, the Minister added.

 

Earlier in the event, it was informed that the SEVA Dashboard provides summary of quantity of coal dispatched along with gradesfor the given day, month, and the latest yearly updates as well. It also provides information on rake movement including latest status of indents of rake, allotment and loading. This would help consumers making advance logistics planning. Further, the app has a dedicated backend team to monitor the status of specific grievances from consumers and take action on the feedback received on the app. While much of the information on the SEVA Dashboard is available in open access, consumer specific data would be password protected.

 

The consumer friendly mobile app helps in tracking of coal dispatch to 118 Power Plants through Fuel Supply Agreement (FSA) of around 500 MT besides, dispatch through Special Forward E-Auction and Bridge Linkage from more than 200 dispatch points spread over eight states of the country. Daily quantity involved is to thetune of 1.25Million Tonnes involving the daily movement of around195 coal trains besides dispatch through other captive modes of transportlike MGR, road, belt, ropeways etc.

 

Other dignitaries present during the event were Shri Susheel Kumar, Secretary Coal, Shri Suresh Kumar, Additional Secretary Coal, Shri Sutirtha Bhattacharya, Chairman CIL and other senior officers of the Ministry and the PSUs under it.

 

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Read more: Shri Piyush Goyal launches ‘SEVA’ App

Argentina, Burkina-Faso, Chad, France, India, Ivory Coast, Mali, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Sénégal, Uganda and Yemen have jointly supported commissioning of a study to define and structure a Common Risk Mitigation Mechanism (CRMM) for solar power generation projects in solar rich countries today . This is a major step in the implementation of the Paris Declaration of the International Solar Alliance (ISA) adopted on 30 November 2015 and of the ISA Programme aimed at mobilising “Affordable finance at scale”. This instrument will dramatically lower the cost of finance for renewable energy and the overall price of electricity.

Today, the cost of capital represents a substantial amount of the final costs of renewable energy, in particular solar PV. The Council on Energy, Environment and Water calculates that in India it represents 70% of the total cost of solar power. The proposed CRMM will offer a simple and affordable tool that will create a secure environment for private institutional investment in solar assets. The instrument will help diversify and pool risks on mutualized public resources and unlock significant investments.

The study was entrusted by the Interim Secretariat to a task force chaired by Terrawatt Initiative (TWI), the World Bank Group, the Currency Exchange Fund (TCX), the Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW) and also the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII). Public and private stakeholders and partners will be consulted to contribute to the initiative and to ensure collective buy-in and validation. Participating countries may each appoint a qualified representative who will liaise with the task force and convey information regarding countries’ specific expectations, experience and needs. They call all other countries lying fully or partially between the Tropics to join them and support this initiative to attract investments into the solar sector.

Background on ISA:

The International Solar Alliance is an initiative jointly launched by the Prime Minister of India and the President of France on 30 November 2015 at Paris, in the presence of the Secretary General of the UN, on the side lines of COP21. Under the ISA, solar rich countries lying fully or partially between the Tropics are invited to share and aggregate data regarding their needs and objectives; emulate successful practices; and set up common mechanisms and instruments, in order to address obstacles to deployment at scale of solar energy.

RM/VM

Read more: Commissioning a Study on Common Risk Mitigation...

Shri Piyush Goyal, Minister of State (IC) for Power, Coal, Mines and New & Renewable Energy said that International Solar Alliance ( ISA) can act as a medium to spread lessons on energy security which can help achieve universal energy access target set up in SDGs before 2030. He was speaking at the launch of “Scaling Solar MiniGrids” by France and India on the sidelines of 52nd Annual Meeting of the African Development Bank (AfDB) in Ahmedabad yesterday. 

Speaking on the occasion, Shri Goyal called for deeper Indo-African cooperation. He said that Indian renewable energy sector offers lessons such as lower and innovative financing models, risk reduction, setting up large scale solar projects through energy parks. “India has achieved grid parity in solar tariffs”, he added. 

Shri Piyush Goyal also said that Scaling Solar MiniGrids shall work in tandem with ISA’s over all objectives and already existing two programmes, namely Scaling Solar Applications for Agricultural Use and Affordable Finance at Scale launched on 22nd April, 2016. The main activities under the programme shall include-design and deploy small grids, adopt common standards, aggregate demand, help establish global credit enhancement and de-risking mechanisms, call for expression of interest, assess demand and costs requirement for mini grid projects, identify/develop attractive payment models for consumers, and persuade member countries with overseas assistance budgets to earmark a portion of their soft loan for the Third Programme.

The objective of the event is to cater to the energy needs of ISA Member states in identified areas with unreliable or no grid(s), and in island member states having abundant potential to tap solar energy. Such participating member countries can take advantage of the available solutions to promote universal energy access and reduce electricity costs and tariffs through introduction and promotion of mini, micro, and nano grids with smart features for harnessing solar power, in a time bound manner.

Mr. Ahmed Said Hassaini Djaffar, Vice President of the Republic of Comoros in his address welcomed the ISA initiative and stated that Africa is a solar resource rich region and can help achieve targets in solar energy.  

ISA’s third programme is an attempt to address the challenges in integrating solar energy into insular or unconnected electricity grids. The challenges mainly include iniquitous electricity tariff regimes, small and disaggregated size of the markets, building up of local skill sets, lack of access to low cost capital, effective interconnection to grids in rural, remote and urban areas etc. In addition management of variability, intermittency and its impact on the stability of small-scale electricity systems also add to the woes.

Recently Expression of Interest have been received from Indian companies to install 664,000 solar pumps, install 56 MW of Minigrids and train 5400 solar mechanics in the African countries who have signed and ratified the ISA Framework Agreement. Government of India is extending a US $ 10 billion line of credit for undertaking developmental work in African countries. On the request of ISA, Government of India has agreed to earmark 15-20% of this line of credit for undertaking solar related projects. H.E. Mrs.  Ségolène Royal, Minister for Environment, Energy and Marine Affairs of France, in charge of International Relations on climate change, was the main architect and motivator to launch this programme during such a short period. Delegation from the French Embassy was present too on this occasion.

The International Solar Alliance is an initiative jointly launched by the Honourable Prime Minister of India and Honourable President of France on 30th November 2015 at Paris, in the presence of the Secretary General of the UN, on the side lines of COP21. The main objective of ISA is to undertake joint efforts required to reduce the cost of finance and the cost of technology, mobilize more than US $ 1000 billion of investments needed by 2030 for massive deployment of solar energy, and pave the way for future technologies adapted to the needs of 121 countries lying fully or partially between the Tropics. So far 31 countries have signed the Framework Agreement of the ISA, which is the first international and intergovernmental organization to be headquartered in India.

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RM/PS

Read more: “ISA can act as a medium to achieve universal...

Prime Minister’s Speech at the inauguration of the Annual Meeting of the African Development Bank (AfDB)

Your Excellencies the Presidents of Benin and Senegal Your Excellency the Vice President of Cote D’Ivoire

President of the African Development Bank

Secretary-General of the African Union

Commissioner of the African Union Commission

My Cabinet colleague Shri Arun Jaitley

Chief Minister of Gujarat Shri Vijay Rupani

Distinguished guests and brothers and sisters from Africa

Ladies and Gentlemen

We are gathered today in the state of Gujarat. The Gujarati flair for business is well known. Gujaratis are also famous for their love of Africa! As an Indian and a Gujarati, I am very happy that this meeting is being held in India and that too in Gujarat.

India has had strong ties with Africa for centuries. Historically, communities from western India, especially Gujarat, and the eastern coast of Africa have settled in each other's lands. The Siddhis of India are said to have come from East Africa. The Bohra communities in coastal Kenya date back to the twelfth century. Vasco da Gama is said to have reached Calicut with the help of a Gujarati sailor from Malindi. The dhows of Gujarat took merchandise in both directions. Ancient links between societies have also enriched our cultures. The rich Swahili language includes many Hindi words.

During the colonial era, thirty-two thousand Indians came to Kenya to build the iconic Mombasa Uganda railway. Many lost their lives during its construction. Around six thousand of them stayed back and brought their families. Many of them started small businesses called "dukas" and came to be known as the "dukkawalas". During the colonial years, merchants, artisans and later officials, teachers, doctors and other professionals went to East and West Africa creating a vibrant community which combines the best of India and Africa.

Mahatma Gandhi, another Gujarati, perfected his tools of non-violent struggle in South Africa. He also visited Tanzania in 1912 along with Gopal Krishna Gokhale. Several leaders of Indian origin supported strongly, and fought alongside, the leaders of Africa's struggles for independence, including Mr. Nyerere, Mr. Kenyatta, and Nelson Mandela. After the freedom struggle, several leaders of Indian origin were also appointed in the Cabinets of Tanzania and South Africa. There are at least six Tanzanians of Indian origin who are now serving as Members of Parliament in Tanzania.

The trade union movement of East Africa was started by Makhan Singh. It was during the trade union meetings that the first call for Kenyan independence was sounded. M. A. Desai and Pio Gama Pinto participated actively in Kenya’s independence struggle. The then Prime Minister Pandit Nehru sent an Indian Member of Parliament Diwan Chaman Lall to be part of Mr. Kenyatta’s defence team, when the latter was imprisoned and tried during the Kapenguria trial in 1953. The defence team included two other persons of Indian origin. India was steadfast in its support for Africa’s freedom. Nelson Mandela said, and I quote, “India came to our aid when the rest of the world stood by or gave succour to our oppressors. When the doors of international Councils were closed to us, India opened the way. You took up our battles, as if they were your own.”

Over decades, our ties have become stronger. After assuming office in 2014, I have made Africa a top priority for India’s foreign and economic policy. The year 2015 was a watershed. The third India Africa Summit held that year was attended by all fifty-four African countries having diplomatic relations with India. A record forty-one African countries participated at the level of Heads of State or Government.

Since 2015, I have visited six African Countries, South Africa, Mozambique, Tanzania, Kenya, Mauritius and Seychelles. Our President has visited three countries, Namibia, Ghana and Ivory Coast. The Vice-President visited seven countries, Morocco, Tunisia, Nigeria, Mali, Algeria, Rwanda and Uganda. I am proud to say that there is no country in Africa that has not been visited by an Indian Minister in the last three years. Friends, from a time when we mainly had mercantile and maritime links between Mombasa and Mumbai, we have today

• this Annual meeting which connects Abidjan and Ahmedabad

• business links between Bamako and Bangalore

• cricketing links between Chennai and Cape Town

• development links between Delhi and Dakar.

This brings me to our development cooperation. India’s partnership with Africa is based on a model of cooperation which is responsive to the needs of African countries. It is demand-driven and free of conditions.

As one plank of this cooperation, India extends lines of credit through India’s Exim Bank. 152 credits have been extended to 44 countries for a total amount of nearly 8 billion dollars.

During the Third India-Africa Forum Summit, India offered 10 billion dollars for development projects over the next five years. We also offered grant assistance of 600 million dollars.

India is proud of its educational and technical ties with Africa. Thirteen current or former Presidents, Prime Ministers and Vice Presidents in Africa have attended educational or training institutions in India. Six current or former chiefs of armed forces in Africa trained in India’s military institutions. Two current Ministers of the Interior have attended Indian institutions. Under the popular India Technical and Economic Cooperation Programme, more than thirty three thousand scholarships have been offered to officials from African countries since 2007.

One of our best partnerships in the area of skills is the training of “solar mamas”. Every year eighty African women are trained in India to work on solar panels and circuits. After their training they go back and literally electrify their communities. Each woman is responsible for electrifying 50 houses in her community on return. A necessary condition for the women to be selected is that they be illiterate or semi-literate. They also learn several other skills, like basket making, bee keeping, and kitchen gardening during their stay.

We have successfully completed the Pan Africa e-network project for tele-medicine and tele-network covering 48 African countries. Five leading universities in India offered certificate, under graduate and post graduate programmes. Twelve super-speciality hospitals offered consultations and Continuous Medical Education. Around seven thousand students have concluded their studies. We will soon launch the next phase.

We will soon successfully complete the Cotton Technical Assistance Programme for African Countries launched in 2012. The project was implemented in Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad, Malawi, Nigeria and Uganda.

Friends,

Africa-India trade has multiplied in the last fifteen years. It has doubled in the last five years to reach nearly seventy-two billion US dollars in 2014-15. India’s commodity trade with Africa in 2015-16 was higher than our commodity trade with the United States of America.

India is also working with United States and Japan to support development in Africa. I gladly recall my detailed conversation with Prime Minister Abe during my visit to Tokyo. We discussed our commitment for enhancing growth prospects for all. In our joint declaration, we mentioned an Asia Africa Growth Corridor and proposed further conversations with our brothers and sisters from Africa.

Indian and Japanese research institutions have come up with a Vision Document. I congratulate RIS, ERIA and IDE-JETRO for their efforts in putting it together. This was done in consultation with think tanks from Africa. I understand the Vision Document would be presented at the Board meeting later. The idea is that India and Japan, with other willing partners, would explore joint initiatives in skills, health, infrastructure, manufacturing and connectivity.

Our partnership is not confined to Governments alone. India’s private sector is at the forefront of driving this impetus. From 1996 to 2016, Africa accounted for nearly one-fifth of Indian overseas direct investments. India is the fifth largest country investing in the continent, with investments over the past twenty years amounting to fifty four billion dollars, creating jobs for Africans.

We are encouraged by the response of African countries to the International Solar Alliance initiative, which was launched at the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris in November 2015. The Alliance is conceived as a coalition of countries rich in solar resources, to address their special energy needs. I am happy to note that many African countries have extended their support to this initiative.

As a founder of the New Development Bank, popularly called the “BRICS bank”, India has consistently supported establishment of a Regional Centre in South Africa. This will provide a platform to promote collaboration between NDB and other development partners including the African Development Bank.

India joined the African Development Fund in 1982 and the African Development Bank in 1983. India has contributed to all of the Bank’s General Capital Increases. For the most recent African Development Fund replenishment, India pledged twenty nine million dollars. We have contributed to the Highly Indebted Poor Countries and Multilateral Debt Reduction Initiatives.

On the sidelines of these Meetings, the Government of India is organising a Conference and Dialogue in partnership with the Confederation of Indian Industry. There is also an exhibition in association with the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry. The focus areas range from Agriculture to Innovation and start-ups and other themes.

The theme of this event is “Transforming Agriculture for wealth creation in Africa”. This is an area where India and the Bank can fruitfully join hands. I have already mentioned the Cotton Technical Assistance Programme.

Here in India, I have launched an initiative to double farmers’ incomes by 2022. It will require concerted steps, ranging from improved seeds and optimal inputs, to reduced crop losses and better marketing infrastructure. India is keen to learn from your experiences as we proceed on this initiative.

My African brothers and sisters,

Many of the challenges we face are the same: uplifting our farmers and the poor, empowering women, ensuring our rural communities have access to finance, building infrastructure. We have to do these within financial constraints. We have to maintain macro-economic stability so that inflation is controlled and our balance of payments is stable. There is much for us to gain by sharing our experiences on all these fronts. For example, in our push to a less-cash economy, we have learnt from the great strides that African countries like Kenya have made in the area of mobile banking.

I am happy to share that India has, in the last three years, improved on all macro-economic indicators. The fiscal deficit, balance of payments deficit, and inflation are down. The GDP growth rate, foreign exchange reserves and public capital investment are up. At the same time, we have made big strides in development.

Mr. President of the African Development Bank, it is reported that you have described our recent steps as text book chapters for other developing nations and called us a development beacon. While thanking you for these kind words, I am also glad to know that you have spent quite some time training in Hyderabad earlier. However, I must say that I remain focused on the many challenges ahead. In that context, I thought I could share with you some of the strategies we have used in the last 3 years.

By paying subsidies directly to the poor rather than indirectly through price concessions, we have achieved large fiscal savings. In cooking gas alone we have saved over 4 billion dollars in three years. In addition, I appealed to well-off citizens to voluntarily give up their gas subsidy. Under the ‘Give it up’ campaign, we promised the saving would be used to provide a connection to a poor family. You will be surprised to know that over 10 million Indians volunteered to do so. Thanks to the savings, we have launched a programme to provide gas connections to 50 million poor families. More than 15 million connections have already been provided. This transforms the lives of rural women. It frees them from the health hazards of cooking with firewood. It also protects the environment and reduces pollution. This is an example of what I call ‘reform to transform’: a concerted set of actions which transform lives.

Some of the subsidised urea fertiliser intended for farmers used to get illegally diverted to non-agricultural uses, like production of chemicals. We introduced universal neem-coating of urea. This makes the fertiliser unsuitable for diversion. Not only have we got substantial financial savings but in addition, studies have shown that neem coating has improved the effectiveness of the fertiliser.

We are also providing our farmers with soil health cards which tell them the exact nature of their soil, and advise on the best mix of inputs. This promotes optimal use of inputs, and increases crop yield.

We have made unprecedented increases in capital investment in infrastructure, covering railways, highways, power, and gas pipelines. By next year, no village in India will be without electricity. Our Clean Ganga, Renewable Energy, Digital India, Smart Cities, Housing for All and Skill India missions are preparing us for a cleaner, more prosperous, faster growing and modern new India. Our aim is that India must be an engine of growth as well as an example in climate friendly development in the years to come.

There are two crucial factors which have helped us. The first set of changes is in the banking system. In the last 3 years, we have achieved universal banking. We launched the Jan Dhan Yojana or People’s Money campaign under which over two hundred and eighty million bank accounts have been opened for the poor in urban and rural areas. Thanks to that initiative, virtually every Indian family has a bank account. Normally banks are associated with helping businesses and the rich. We have enlisted them for helping the poor in their quest for development. We have strengthened our state-owned banks by freeing them from political decisions and appointing professional chief executives on merit through a transparent selection process.

Our universal biometric identification system called Aadhaar has been the second crucial element. It prevents claiming of benefits by those who are not eligible. It enables us to ensure that those who deserve government aid receive it with ease, while excluding non-genuine claims.

Friends, let me conclude by wishing you a very successful and productive annual meeting. In the sports arena, India cannot compete with Africa in long distance running. But I can assure you that India will always stand with you, shoulder to shoulder, supporting you in the long and difficult race for a better future.

Excellencies! Ladies and Gentlemen! I now have great pleasure in officially declaring the Annual Meetings of the Board of Governors of the African Development Bank Group open.

Thank you!

***

AKT/SH

Read more: Prime Minister’s Speech at the inauguration of...

 

5 times more Villages electrified in 2016-17 under DDUGJY as compared to 2013-14; Four-fold jump in Intensive Electrification of Rural Households

 

Free electricity connections provided to 256.81 Lakh BPL families up to 30th April 2017

 

Release of Rs 7965.87 Crores in FY 2016-17 is the highest grant released to States in any Financial Year, over the years

 

Projects with an outlay of Rs. 42,553.17 Crores approved for 32 States/UTs

 

 

Union Minister of State (IC) for Power, Coal, New and Renewable Energy and Mines, Shri Piyush Goyal addressed the media on Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana (DDUGJY) here today. The Minister said, Every state in the country has joined Power for All agreement”. All the states have pledged to boost holistic development of entire village electrification process to provide 24x7 affordable and quality power to all which is planned under DDUGJY.

 

The Minister interacted with the regional media representatives from 12 State Capitals through video conferencing and informed them about latest achievements under the DDUGJY scheme in the respective States. Shri Goyal also launched the new dashboard for GARV application and booklet on rural electrification on the occasion.

 

Talking about the impact of good governance in Rural Electrification, Shri Goyal said, The Government is working on the concept of 4S i.e. Skill, Speed, Scale and now Sewa to improve the lives of the rural populace as the prime priority. The Minister further added, We have changed the rules of this game. Instead of counting 10% households in the village to complete electrification process, now the Government is focusing on providing power connections to each and every household of village, thus providing meaning to the concept of Antyodaya’.

 

Shri Goyal said that, in line with the philosophy of Pandit DeenDayal Upadhyaya of ANTYODAYA (serving the last Man), on 20thNovember 2014, Government of India had approved Deendayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana (DDUGJY), an integrated scheme covering all aspects of rural power distribution viz., Feeder Segregation, System Strengthening, Metering. Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi, in his Independence Day address to the nation on 15th August 2015 pledged to electrify all Un-electrified villages within 1000 days. Government of India therefore taken up Village Electrification on Mission mode targeting completion by May 2018.

 

Shri Goyal further added that, out of the 18,452 un-electrified census villages in the country, 13,469 villages have been electrified up to 15th May, 2017.A comparison of Achievements and the Physical & Financial Progress under rural electrification scheme in 2013-14 & 2016-17 is given as follows:

 

Parameters

2013-14

2016-17

2017-18 Target

Electrification of un-electrified villages

1,197

6,015 (5.02 times)

Balance  un-electrified villages to be electrified by May 2018

Intensive electrification of villages

 

14,956

63,330 (4.2 times)

85,000

Free Electricity Connections to BPL households*

 

9.62

22.42 (2.3 times)

40 Lakh

Government of India Grant released to States**

 

Rs. 2938.52 Crores

Rs. 7965.87 Crores (2.7 times)

Rs. 4814 Crores

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Free electricity connections to BPL Households provided to 256.81Lakh BPL families up to 30th April 2017

** Release of highest ever grant in any FY of Rs 7965.87 Crores to States

 

Background Information

 

The remaining rural electrification works of the erstwhile scheme have been subsumed into DDUGJY. The scheme outlay is Rs 43,033 Crores with Rs 33,453 Crores grant from Government of India. The overall outlay, with the subsumed rural electrification works, is Rs. 75,893 Crores including Grant of Rs. 63,027 Crores from Government of India.

 

Under new DDUGJY, Government of India provides grant at the rate of 60% of project cost (85% for special category States). Further, additional grant at the rate of 15% grant is provided (5% for Special Category States) on fulfilment of the prescribed milestones. Under this scheme, the new projects with an outlay of Rs. 42,553.17 Crores have been approved for 32 States/UTs including works of Feeder Separation (Rs 15572.99 Crores), System Strengthening & Connecting Rural Households (Rs 19706.59 Crores), Metering (Rs 3874.48 Crores), Village Electrification (Rs 2792.57 Crores) and Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana (Rs 398.54 Crores).

 

More than 350 Gram Vidyut Abhiyantas (GVA) deployed in the field to monitor the progress of village electrification works. GARV Mobile App (garv.gov.in) was developed for monitoring progress of electrification in 18,452 un-electrified villages, in line with milestones. GVAs update in the GARV App, field photographs, data and other information. On 20th December 2016, updated GARV App had been launched for monitoring Household electrification in all 5.97 Lakh Villages. Updated GARV has the special feature of SAMVAD engaging the citizens for establishing transparency and accountability.

 

The scheme is expected to transform lifestyle of villagers and bring in overall socio-economic development in rural areas. Following are the key outcomes of the scheme:

·         Increased productivity in agriculture

·         Reducing drudgery for women

·         Improvement in children education

·         Connectivity to all villages and households

·         Viable and reliable electricity services in rural areas

·         Improvement in delivery of health & education services

·         Improvement in access to communications (radio, telephone, television, mobile)

·         Improvement in public safety through lighting

 

The scheme has complete flexibility for selecting scope of works as per local requirement/priority of States. The population criteria have been dispensed with and all Villages/hamlets without any population restriction are eligible under the scheme. States are to consult District Electricity Committee (DEC)while formulating DPRs and the Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana (SAGY) proposals of Membersof Parliament are necessarily to be covered in the scheme. The scheme has other features like Mandatory E-tendering, compliance of Standard Bidding Document. Private Discoms and RE Cooperative Societies are also eligible under the scheme. The scheme is being reviewed by DISHA (District Development Coordination and Monitoring Committee). Government of India is committed to transform the lives of rural populace and provide 24x7 Power for All (PFA).

 

*****

RM/VM/PS

Read more: 13,469 villages electrified up to 15th May 2017

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