Sunday, July 17, 2016

Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi chairs the Inter-State Council meeting
A meeting of the Inter-State Council took place here today. The Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi chaired the meeting. Union Ministers participated in the meeting along with the Chief Ministers and Administrators of States and Union Territories.

This Inter-State Council meeting has many firsts. Notable among them is that, for the first time a meeting of the Inter-State Council has covered a wide ranging topics of common interest to the Centre and the States. Previously Inter-State Council meetings focused on just one or two sectors. It is also important to add here that this meeting has been held after a gap of 10 years.

The Union Home Minister, Shri Rajnath Singh welcomed the Members of the Council and mentioned about the importance of cooperative federalism and how this Government was committed to the ideal of Centre-State cooperation. The completion of all the Zonal Council meetings in 2015 was a reflection of this commitment, he added.

The Prime Minister, in his inaugural address mentioned, that the Inter State Council is the most significant platform for strengthening Centre-State and Inter-State relations. He observed that the Council should discuss matters which are of concern to large segments of our population. It is with that intention that the agenda subjects for discussion in the Council have been chosen. So far 102 crore Aadhaar cards have been distributed and today the Aadhaar card has become a symbol of empowerment. He added that India’s greatest assets are the youth of the country and, therefore, they should be equipped with the skill and ability to think logically and work creatively. He emphasized the need to focus on intelligence sharing and ensure greater coordination among agencies, so as to strengthen the internal security of the country.

Following this, presentations were made by the Secretary of Inter-State Council Secretariat and the Secretaries of the Departments of Electronics and IT, School Education and Literacy and the Ministry of Home Affairs.

The Chief Ministers then presented their views on the agenda items. The recommendations of the Commission on Centre-State relations headed by Justice M.M. Punchhi, retired CJI, will be first referred to the Standing Committee and with their recommendations be placed before the Council. On the issue of Aadhaar enrollment and using Aadhaar as an identifier for direct benefit transfers, the State Governments assured that they will provide maximum support in completing the enrollment and also in setting up DBT (Direct Benefit Transfer) cells. The consensus view that emerged in the Council with regard to improving the quality of education and learning outcomes was that there has to be an improvement in the pupil-teacher ratio and in the training of teachers. Besides, focus also needs to be there on improving classroom processes and in the quality of school infrastructure. All these should be achieved in a time-bound manner. The Council discussed the importance of maintaining internal security by better intelligence sharing between the States and Central agencies. Terrorism should be put down with an iron hand. The need for modernizing the police force with better equipment and training was also emphasized.

Many Chief Ministers lauded the Government of India for convening the meeting of the Inter-State Council and requested that such meetings should be convened more frequently.

In his concluding address the Prime Minister mentioned that Aadhaar seeding should be attempted to the maximum extent possible in the implementation of welfare schemes. While expansion of educational facilities for school education was the only area of priority focus earlier, today we should, in addition focus on the quality of education and learning outcomes also. Technology can greatly help in this. We should proactively take steps to bridge the disparities in the standards between the better endowed and poorly endowed schools.

There should be better coordination and interaction between the police departments of the States and ‘Smart Policing’ should be practiced and in this, technology and focus on training of the police personnel in matters relating to cyber crimes should be important points of emphasis. 

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