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Final term university examinations to be conducted by Sept end; Home Ministry gives nod

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The final term examinations in universities and institutions, which had been pending due to the novel Coronavirus, will now be conducted by the end of September, following safety guidelines laid down by the Ministry of Health.

Announcing the same, Union Minister for Human Resource Development, Dr Ramesh Pokhriyal “Nishank” late on Monday tweeted that the UGC has revisited its earlier guidelines related to university examinations.

In view of the safety, career progression and placements of the students and their larger interests, after consulting the Union Home Ministry and Ministry of Health, he said it has been decided that “Intermediate semester students will be evaluated based on internal assessment” while “Evaluation of the terminal semester students, which was to be done through examinations in the month of July, will now be conducted by the end of September-2020”.

Pokhriyal had asked the UGC on Sunday to “revisit” the academic calendar and guidelines released in April.

According to the new guidelines, the final university exams can be held online and offline. In case a student cannot appear in September, provisions will be made so she can take the exams later.

The Ministry of Home Affairs had on Monday permitted conduct of examinations by universities and institutions. The MHA wrote a letter in this regard to the Union Higher Education Secretary.

“The final Term Examinations are to be compulsorily conducted as per the UGC Guidelines on Examinations and Academic Calendar for the universities,” said a statement issued by the Home Ministry.

The MHA, however, cautioned that the examinations should be held as per the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) approved by the Union Ministry of Health & Family Welfare.

Shortly after, the UGC issued revised guidelines on examinations and academic calendar.

All schools, colleges and universities were closed after India imposed a nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of the Coronavirus in the country. As a result, examinations too could not be held.

States like Maharashtra, Haryana, Punjab, Odisha, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh have cancelled all higher education exams and decided to promote students on the basis of previous performances.

Meanwhile, the Delhi High Court on Monday, while seeking the UGC and the HRD Ministry’s stand on whether to cancel the final year examination of degree courses, said that holding exams is not just a technological issue but also needs to take in account the mental preparedness of students.

“…the UGC and the Central government, ought to also bear in mind that the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in enormous mental distress and agony to students. There are families which are suffering medical illnesses and giving of examinations is not just a technological issue but the state of mental preparedness of the students also needs to be assessed,” said the court.

The court was hearing a petition filed by several students of the final year of the Delhi University seeking cancellation of the examinations in wake of the Coronavirus pandemic.

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‘Lessons from Swachhta Mission important in fighting Covid’: PM Modi at launch of Rashtriya Swachhata Kendra

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday inaugurates the Rashtriya Swachhata Kendra – an interactive experience centre on the Swachh Bharat Mission in the national capital.

The centre was inaugurated at the Gandhi Smriti and Darshan Samiti at Rajghat.

During his address to the nation at the launch event, PM lauded the people of India for making swachhata a ‘jan andolan’ and urged them to continue to do so in the future.

He reiterated the importance of swachhata in our daily lives, especially during our fight against the coronavirus.

Prime Minister also launched ‘Gandagi Mukt Bharat’, a special week-long campaign for swachhata in the run-up to Independence Day, during which each day till 15th August will have special swachhata initiatives in urban and rural India to re-enforce the jan andolan for swachhata.

PM Modi briefly visited the RSK souvenir centre. He then interacted with 36 school students from Delhi, representing all States and Union Territories of India at the amphitheatre of the RSK, adhering to social distancing protocols.

The children shared with the Prime Minister their experiences with swachhata activities at home and at school, and their impressions of the RSK. One of them also asked the Prime Minister what his favourite part of the RSK was, to which the Prime Minister replied that he most enjoyed the portion dedicated to the inspiration of the SBM, Mahatma Gandhi.

He took a tour of the three distinct sections of the Rashtriya Swachhata Kendra. He first experienced a unique 360° audio visual immersive show in Hall 1 which provides an overview of the Swachh Bharat journey. He then moved to Hall 2 which contains a series of interactive LED panels, hologram boxes, interactive games and much more on the SBM.

PM Modi also saw the installations in the lawn adjacent to RSK which showcase three exhibits which are synonymous with the SBM – Mahatma Gandhi leading people to the Swachhata pledge, Rani Mistris of rural Jharkhand and children swachhagrahis who call themselves Vaanar Sena.

The Rashtriya Swachhata Kendra will be open to the public from 9th August from 8 AM to 5 PM, in accordance with the prescribed guidelines for social distancing and hygiene. As the number of people who may visit the RSK at a given point in time will have to be limited, no tours will be organized for students in the short term. However, virtual tours of the RSK will also be organized till such time as physical tours are possible. The first such virtual tour will be organized on 13th August with Minister for Jal Shakti, Shri Gajendra Singh Shekhawat. For ticket bookings and more information on the RSK, one may log on to rsk.ddws.gov.in

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Beirut explosions: French President Macron announces fundraising conference for Lebanon

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French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday said an international fundraising conference for Lebanon will be held in the next few days after the deadly explosion that devastated Beirut.

On a visit to the gutted city, Macron said that France will organize a conference with European, American and Middle Eastern and other donors to raise money for food, medicine, housing and other urgent aid.

Macron also promised a “clear and transparent governance” so that the aid goes directly to the populations and aid groups.

On Tuesday, two enormous explosions devastated Beirut’s port that left at least 137 people dead and over 5,000 injured across wide parts of the country’s biggest city, shaking distant buildings and spreading panic and chaos across the Lebanese capital.

Prime Minister Hassan Diab said that 2,750 tonnes of the agricultural fertiliser ammonium nitrate that had been stored for years in a portside warehouse had blown up, sparking “a disaster in every sense of the word”.

The blasts were so massive they shook the entire city and could be heard throughout the small country, and as far away as Nicosia on the eastern Mediterranean island of Cyprus, 240 kilometres (150 miles) away.

The explosions also come as Lebanon awaits a UN tribunal’s verdict Friday on the 2005 murder of former Lebanese premier Rafic Hariri, killed in a huge truck bomb attack.

Meanwhile, leaders across the world expressed their grief and condolences to the victims.

In a tweet, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, “Shocked and saddened by the large explosion in Beirut city leading to loss of life and property. Our thoughts and prayers are with the bereaved families and the injured.”

United States President Donald Trump said his military generals told him they “seem to feel” that the massive explosion was in fact a bomb attack.

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Biggest 1-day spike of over 62k cases, India’s Coronavirus tally crosses 20 lakh-mark; deaths reach 41,585

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India’s Coronavirus tally crossed the 20 lakh-mark on Friday after recording the highest single-day spike of 62,538 cases in 24 hours. As many as 886 patients succumbed to the infection in the same period.

The total number of Coronavirus cases in the country has risen to 20,27,075 including 6,07,384 active and 13,78,106 cured cases. The death toll has climbed to 41,585, said the data shared by the Union Health Ministry.

The recovery rate has been on a steady rise and stood at 67.98 per cent this morning.

India’s Coronavirus tally had crossed 10 lakh cases on July 17.

India has crossed 20 lakh coronavirus cases in 190 days after Kerala reported the first patient on January 30.

Meanwhile, five states reported the highest number of patients in the last 24 hours – Maharashtra (11,514), Andhra Pradesh (10,328), Karnataka (6,805), Tamil Nadu (5,684) and Uttar Pradesh (4,586).

With 4.79 lakh cases, Maharashtra remains the worst hit state. The state reported its biggest single-day jump in infections on Thursday. More than 16,000 patients have died so far.

Meanwhile, India is the third worst-hit country in terms of cases behind Brazil, which has more than 29 lakh cases and the US with close to 50 lakh cases.

At the global front, the total number of Coronavirus cases rose to 18,908,111, with deaths reaching 710,318, according to the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University.

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