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Jul 2, 2015

Meritnation.com releases India’s 1st Digital Education Report

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Meritnation.com releases India’s 1st Digital Education Report
Meritnation.com, India’s largest online K-12 education platform announced the key findings of India’s first Digital Education Report today. This is India’s first digital education report which has data derived from over 92,00,000 individual users. Explaining the significance of the report, Prayag Panchwadkar, VP Marketing, Meritnation said, “As India’s largest digital education company in the k12 space, we wanted to share the unique insights that we have derived by analysing data and trends of students studying on various digital platforms. By sharing important insights with the larger industry, we are attempting to showcase key trends and indicators to highlight the progress and opportunities of the country’s digital education sector.”

The report is a compilation of Meritnation.com’s Advanced Analytics Cell which monitors and analyzes data of industry and user behaviour on digital learning media from public and proprietary domains and also India’s largest user generated database of over 92,00,000 students studying on Meritnation.com.

Sharing the key highlights of the report, Prayag says,

  • Mobile applications have emerged as a strong growth driver in the category as education mobile app installs have grown by over 217 % as compared to last year
  • Average time spent by students on mobile has grown by over 91 % since last year
  • Students from tier II cities across India are now actively accessing education content on mobile - mobile app usage growth is now over 73% since last year
  • This year, students from tier I cities continue the upward trend of growth on mobile app usage as app usage grows by over 99% across metros and tier one cities
  • Students of various age groups show differing rates of growth in accessing digital learning content :
  • students from classes 1 to 5 spent 32% more time studying online as compared to the previous year
  • students from classes 6 to 8 spent 15% more time studying online as compared to the previous year
  • Over 32% more CBSE students are now studying online as compared to last year
  • Over 43% more ICSE students are now studying online as compared to last year

“While it was earlier considered a niche, mobile based digital learning is now firmly mainstream among children across geographies in India. Digital study is also increasing fast among students of primary classes. For future growth, the digital education category as a whole will have to plan or modify products keeping in mind such content consumption patterns.”
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Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yoiana

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Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yoiana
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA), chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, has given its approval to a new scheme the “Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana” (PMKSY). It will have an outlay of Rs. 50,000 crore over a period of five years (2015-16 to 2019-20). The allocation for the current financial year is Rs. 5300 crore.

The major objective of the PMKSY is to achieve convergence of investments in irrigation at the field level, expand cultivable area under assured irrigation (Har Khet ko pani), improve on-farm water use efficiency to reduce wastage of water, enhance the adoption of precision-irrigation and other water saving technologies (More crop per drop), enhance recharge of aquifers and introduce sustainable water conservation practices by exploring the feasibility of reusing treated municipal based water for peri-urban agriculture and attract greater private investment in precision irrigation system. The scheme also aims at bringing concerned Ministries/Departments/Agencies/Research and Financial Institutions engaged in creation/use/recycling/potential recycling of water, brought under a common platform, so that a comprehensive and holistic view of the entire "water cycle" is taken into account and proper water budgeting is done for all sectors namely, household, agriculture and industries.

The programme architecture of PMKSY aims at a 'decentralized State level planning and execution' structure, in order to allow States to draw up a District Irrigation Plan (DIP) and a State Irrigation Plan (SIP). DIP will have holistic developmental perspective of the district outlining medium to long term developmental plans integrating three components namely, water sources, distribution network and water use application of the district to be prepared at two levels - the block and the district. All structures created under the schemes will be geotagged.

The programme will be supervised and monitored at the national level by an Inter-Ministerial National Steering Committee (NSC) under the Chairmanship of the Prime Minister with Union Ministers of all concerned Ministries. A National Executive Committee (NEC) is to be constituted under the Chairmanship of the Vice Chairman, NITI Aayog to oversee programme implementation, allocation of resources, inter ministerial coordination, monitoring and performance assessment, addressing administrative issues etc. At the state level the scheme is to be administered by a State Level Sanctioning Committee (SLSC) to be Chaired by the Chief Secretary of the respective States. The committee will have all authority to sanction the project and also monitor the progress of the scheme. At the district level their shall be a district level implementation committee for ensuring last mile coordination a the field level.

It is expected that PMKSY will provide convergence to existing schemes of water management, thus bringing efficiency to the use of water.

Background:

In the last one year, the Government of India has taken several farmer friendly initiatives. These, amongst other things, include the following:


• A new scheme has been introduced to issue a Soil Health Card to every farmer. Soil Health Management in the country is being promoted through setting up of soil and fertilizer testing laboratories. 34 lakh soil samples has been collected and analysis is continuing.


• A new scheme for promoting organic farming "Pramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana" has been launched to promote organic farming.


• A dedicated Kisan Channel has been started by Doordarshan to address various issues concerning farmers.


• Government is also encouraging formation of Farmer Producer organizations.


• Assistance to farmers, as input subsidy, has been increased by 50 percent in case of natural calamities.


• Norms have been relaxed to provide assistance from previous norm of crop loss of more than 50 percent to 33 percent to farmers afflicted by natural calamities.


• Minimum Support Price (MSP) for various Kharif crops has been increased. Bonus of Rs.200 per quintal has been announced for pulses. Area coverage under pulses has increased over the last year.


Taking it further, today the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by the Prime Minister has given its approval to two new schemes in agriculture sector. These are the PMKSY and Promotion of National Agriculture Market.
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National Policy for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship 2015

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National Policy for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship 2015
The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, today gave its approval for the India’s first integrated National Policy for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship 2015. The Policy acknowledges the need for an effective roadmap for promotion of entrepreneurship as the key to a successful skills strategy. The previous National Policy on Skill Development was formulated by the Ministry of Labour and Employment in 2009 and provided for a review after five years to align the policy framework with emerging national and international trends.

The Vision of the Policy is “to create an ecosystem of empowerment by Skilling on a large Scale at Speed with high Standards and to promote a culture of innovation based entrepreneurship which can generate wealth and employment so as to ensure Sustainable livelihoods for all citizens in the country”.

To achieve this Vision, the Policy has four thrust areas. It addresses key obstacles to skilling, including low aspirational value, lack of integration with formal education, lack of focus on outcomes, low quality of training infrastructure and trainers, etc. Further, the Policy seeks to align supply and demand for skills by bridging existing skill gaps, promoting industry engagement, operationalising a quality assurance framework, leverage technology and promoting greater opportunities for apprenticeship training. Equity is also a focus of the Policy, which targets skilling opportunities for socially/geographically marginalised and disadvantaged groups. Skill development and entrepreneurship programmes for women are a specific focus of the Policy. In the entrepreneurship domain, the Policy seeks to educate and equip potential entrepreneurs, both within and outside the formal education system. It also seeks to connect entrepreneurs to mentors, incubators and credit markets, foster innovation and entrepreneurial culture, improve ease of doing business and promote a focus on social entrepreneurship. (PIB)
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Jul 1, 2015

Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis addresses Investors in New York

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Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis addresses Investors in New York
June 30, 2015 – New York- Today a group of U.S. industry executives from the U.S.-India Business Council (USIBC) met with the Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Devendra Fadnavis for a discussion about investment opportunities in the state.

Chief Minister Fadnavis engaged with senior business executives on important topics that have dominated the bilateral commercial relationship in recent months and addressed areas such as Maharashtra’s comparative edge as an investment destination, regulatory reform measures that have been undertaken by the government to promote ease of doing business in the state, and cultural dialogues that can enhance the bilateral relations between India and the United States.

Emphasizing the investment opportunities that are available in Maharashtra, Chief Minister Fadnavis said, “The Government has taken a variety of measures to promote ease of doing business in the state and we want to be viewed as a top destination for both domestic as well as international investments. The state eagerly awaits the formation of joint ventures in critical projects such as the Delhi - Mumbai Industrial corridor, Smart Cities and in sectors such as manufacturing, agriculture, aviation, engineering and IT. Our Government is committed to providing a boost to both Make in India and Make in Maharashtra campaigns, provide business to both medium and small enterprises and create much-needed jobs. We invite investors from the United States to be a part of Maharashtra’s growth story.”

Lauding the vision of Chief Minister Fadnavis, Mukesh Aghi, President of USIBC, said, “The Council’s member companies have been encouraged by the ease of doing business in Maharashtra. Many of the companies have significant investments in the state. Therefore, appropriate and timely policy measures are critical. USIBC and member companies look forward to participating in the state’s investment opportunities that will not only promote entrepreneurship, but also inclusive growth, positioning it as a model state both in India and globally. I have no hesitation in saying that the state has the potential to emerge as a high ranking state on the ease of doing business index.”

Ashok Vasudevan, Chairman and CEO of Preferred Brands International, manufacturer and marketer of the natural foods brand, Tasty Bite, said, “Tasty Bite has been operating in Maharashtra since the early 90’s and has become one of India’s largest exporter of prepared foods. The state is remarkably resilient due to its diversified base of industry that includes energy, agriculture, food processing, entertainment, engineering, chemicals, pharmaceuticals and financial services. The infrastructure, a mature workforce, a series of business friendly administrations over the last few decades makes it an attractive FDI destination.”

The event was also attended by companies and senior leaders from every major sector of business— Monsanto, Taj Hotels, HSBC, Caterpillar, Cargill, Johnson and Johnson, KPMG, Baker & McKenzie, Citi, New Silk Route and Pfizer.

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Jun 30, 2015

PM Modi congratulates Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa

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PM Modi congratulates Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa
The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi has congratulated Indian badminton players Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa, on winning women’s doubles title in Canada Open.

"Very proud of Ashwini P. and jwala Gutta for the wonderful victory at the Canada Open. Congratulations to the brilliant sportspersons", the Prime Minister said. (PIB)
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Greek Crisis hits Indian Stock Market

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The trading session on Monday, the first day of the week, was not favorable for the investors as the Indian stock markets were seen in much volatile. The major reason for the volatile and bearish nature of trading was Greek crisis.

The Sensex of Bombay stock exchange was ended 166 points down and in intra-day trading the index was seen diving by 560 points. The weak global sentiments had weighed high on Indian stock market yesterday.

Greece Prime Minister declared Bank holiday, shutdown of banks for a week, as per recommendations made by the Central Bank of Greece. This move rattled investors across the world, but the Indian stock market fell heavily in the intra-day trading. It was the bankex that suffered most loss due the impact of Greek crisis or bank holiday in Greece. 
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Jun 29, 2015

19th Conference of the Commonwealth Education Ministers

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19th Conference of the Commonwealth Education Ministers
The 19th Conference of the Commonwealth Education Ministers was held at Nassau, the Bahamas from June 22 to 26, 2015. The Conference which deliberated upon Quality Education for Equitable Development was attended by the education ministers of 38 Commonwealth countries. The Union Minister for Human Resources Development Smt. Smriti Irani led the Indian delegation which comprised Chairman UGC, Chairman NIOS and JS School Education and Literacy, MHRD.

The Conference was inaugurated by the Prime Minister of the Bahamas Mr. Perry Gladstone Christie. The plenary sessions were chaired by the Minister of Education, Science and Technology, the Bahamas Mr. Jerome K. Fitzgerald.

While responding to the issue paper on Quality Education for Equitable Development: Performance, Paths, Productivity the Union Minister Smt. Smriti Irani said that there could be no more opportune time than now that the Commonwealth countries work towards a more coordinated and holistic approach towards rationalizing methods and processes for inclusive and qualitative expansion of education in the respective countries. She underlined the significance of creating common platforms for deliberations on issues of mutual concerns so that issues like expansion, equity and excellence could be addressed in an integrated perspective. She also observed that a key measure of inclusive education would require significant increase in skill development initiatives to meet the emerging human resource requirements.

During her interventions the Union Minister observed that access to educational opportunities continues to bear the stamp of multiple dimensions of inequality that characterize our society: the challenges of world communities and having regard to that she called upon the Commonwealth countries to deliberate on this important subject. While reflecting on the issue of quality she said that the concern of quality in education would remain the centre stage of deliberations of each country of the Commonwealth as a key parameter for sustainable development and therefore there is a need to create a platform to share both the resources and the best practices.

The Union Human Resource Development Minister has made five major offers which were readily embraced by all the participating countries. She announced that India would set up The Malviya Commonwealth Chair for Cross Border Teacher Education which will focus on issues pertaining to curriculum development, pedagogy, student assessment, pre-service and in-service teacher training and capacity development. She also proposed to set up a Commonwealth Consortium for Research which can function in collaboration with the Commonwealth Education hub and provide cross funding for research projects which member nations deem appropriate. She also announced that India would provide its e-Learning platform SWAYAM to host e-courseware developed by Commonwealth of Learning. In addition she also proposed that India would post digitized materials of Commonwealth countries on its soon-to-be established national e-Library. Her contention about strengthening of public institutions to bring about qualitative improvements in education at all levels was greatly appreciated by the member countries. These specific announcements of the Union Minister became the part of Nassau Declaration which was unanimously adopted by the member countries.

India's active participation was greatly appreciated by the member countries as also by the Secretary General of the Commonwealth as well as by the Chief Executive Officer of the Commonwealth of Learning. The Commonwealth Secretary General Mr. Kamlesh Sharma commended India for its generosity in coming forward with innovative ideas and practical financial support for increased Commonwealth collaboration on teacher education and research. He said that "the establishment of the Malviya Commonwealth Chair and the Commonwealth Consortium of Research are immensely valuable. They were warmly welcomed by Ministers as demonstrating India's deep and continuing commitment to the Commonwealth of which it is a founding member." (PIB)
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PM Modi lays Foundation Stone of the Indian Agricultural Research Institute

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PM Modi lays Foundation Stone of the Indian Agricultural Research Institute
The Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi today said that amid rising population and increasingly fragmented land-holdings, the need of the hour for the nation is a second green revolution without any delay, which could only happen in eastern India.

He was speaking after laying the Foundation Stone of the Indian Agricultural Research Institute at Barhi in Jharkhand, and witnessing the exchange of an MoU between the Government of India and NMDC Ltd for setting up a new Steel Plant.

The Prime Minister also called upon farmers to raise the level of pulses production in the country, to help make India self-sufficient in pulses. Invoking former Prime Minister Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri’s call “Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan,” Shri Narendra Modi asked every farmer to try and grow pulses on a part of his land. He also mentioned steps being taken by the Union Government for the pulses sector. He said pulses were an important part of the diet of the common man.

The Prime Minister said he was happy to note that a large number of people from South Bihar were present at the function, because the Institute whose foundation was being laid today would serve that region as well.

The Prime Minister said Indian agriculture has been lagging in several areas including inputs, irrigation, value addition and market linkages. He said the Union Government was committed to modernizing Indian agriculture and making it more productive. He said this required proper allocation of resources and training.

Noting that population was rising and land holdings are getting fragmented, the Prime Minister emphasised the need to enhance productivity to ensure the nation’s food security as well as ensure good income for farmers.

Towards this end, the Prime Minister said proper research was required in all agro climatic zones of the country. This would ensure best results, as well as greater acceptability among farmers. He said this required the spread of agricultural research and education in various regions.

The Prime Minister said the need of the hour was a second green revolution, without any delay, in eastern India. He said that the Union Government was therefore committed to the development of this region. He mentioned the setting up of fertiliser plants, which would ensure proper availability of fertilisers in the region.

Shri Narendra Modi mentioned the Government’s programme to provide soil health cards to all farmers. This too, he mentioned, could provide a source of employment to youth, through soil testing laboratories.

The Prime Minister said animal husbandry and fisheries were equally important for the agriculture sector. He laid stress on the importance of raising productivity in the dairy sector. He said the Government had decided to pay special attention to the dairy sector in Jharkhand. He suggested that one district in each state could be developed as a honey producing district. He also mentioned the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana, to provide adequate irrigation to farmers. Recalling his mantra of per drop, more crop, the Prime Minister said micro irrigation helped raise productivity and incomes for farmers.

The Governor of Jharkhand Smt Droupadi Murmu, the Chief Minister of Jharkhand Shri Raghubar Das, the Union Minister for Agriculture Shri Radha Mohan Singh and the Union MoS for Finance Shri Jayant Sinha were present on the occasion. (PIB)
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Jun 26, 2015

Options for Small Vessel Heart Disease in Diabetics

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Dr. Bimal Chhajer, health and lifestyle expert at The Science And Art Of Living (SAAOL)

If you are a diabetic, have been treated for coronary artery disease with angioplasty, stents or coronary artery bypass graft surgery and the signs and symptoms haven't gone away, you may be having diffuse small vessel disease. Small vessel or coronary microvascular disease is a condition in which small arteries in the heart that are not visible in angiograms become narrowed and cause signs and symptoms of heart disease such as angina chest pain. The large vessels in the heart can become narrowed or blocked through atherosclerosis, a condition in which fatty deposits build up in the arteries. In small vessel disease, the narrowing is in the heart’s small vessels due to which they can't expand properly when the patient is active resulting in inadequate supply of oxygen-rich blood. 

This inability to expand due to endothelial dysfunction may cause small vessels to actually become smaller when one is active or under emotional stress. The reduced blood flow through the small vessels causes angina or a heart attack and is usually diagnosed after a check for blockages in the main arteries of the heart show little or no narrowing in the large vessels but patient has angina symptoms. When small vessel disease is present along with large vessel disease, the condition may be suspected only when a patients has angina even after a successful angioplasty or bypass surgery.

Although anyone can have small vessel disease, it's more common in women and in people who have diabetes, are obese, smokers, have high cholesterol, high blood pressure, unhealthy diet and inactive lifestyle. Diabetics normally feel less pain and chances of painless myocardial infarction that may go unnoticed are more. Diffuse small vessel disease is more difficult to detect and less easily treatable and if left untreated can cause coronary artery spasm, heart attack, heart failure and sudden cardiac death. When in a symptomatic patient coronary angiogram does not show blockages in larger vessels, additional tests for smaller arteries narrowing such as Stress Thallium test imaging and Cardiovascular Cartography heart flow mapping may be of help.

Because the blocked or narrowed blood vessels that cause the disease are very small, angioplasty, stent and surgery are usually not helpful. Small vessel disease treatment involves medications to control the symptoms of narrowed small blood vessels such as Nitroglycerin, Nicorandil, Trimetazidine and Ranolazine. Beta blockers, Calcium channel blockers, Statins, Angiotensin-converting enzyme, Angiotensin II receptor blockers and Aspirin are often prescribed. Helpful dietary supplements are Coenzyme Q10 and L-arginine.

There has been some research on diabetic patients who have Coronary Artery Disease treated with External Counter Pulsation (ECP) therapy. ECP is an option for small vessel disease patients as it dilates the coronaries, opens dormant blood vessels and stimulates angiogenesis - thus should be more effective than stents and bypass in small vessel disease. An analysis of data from the International EECP Patient Registry concluded that “ECP is safe, well tolerated and associated with improvement in angina, functional status, and quality of life and that clinical benefit was maintained in most patients at one year” in diabetic patients. Many diabetics do not present for medical care until their heart disease has progressed due to small vessel disease, endothelial dysfunction and altered pain perception. ECP has been demonstrated to have a positive effect on endothelial function as well as in patient’s symptoms with small vessel disease. Patients with Coronary Artery Disease and diabetes often make excellent candidates for ECP Therapy since diabetic patients are at known increased risk for interventional complications.

ECP Therapy has been demonstrated to increase a patient’s cardiac output and perfusion to all the organs throughout the body, which would absolutely be beneficial in diabetic patients as diabetes is a multi-organ disease. It makes sense that diabetic patients improve with ECP since many of the positive benefits associated with ECP are similar to the benefits of physical exercise and research has demonstrated that physical exercise definitely helps diabetic patients. Though more research is needed it is believed that symptoms of diabetic neuropathy improve in patients who undergo ECP Therapy.

It is not unusual to see a drop of about 20mg/dL in blood sugar after completing of one hour of ECP. Reports from ECP centres suggest that patients who have undergone ECP not only have better control of their blood glucose levels but have also had their physician lower (or in some cases, completely eliminate) the dosage of diabetic medication needed to maintain an optimum blood sugar level; this is not surprising since the benefits of EECP have a similar systemic effect to that of physical exercise.
Another research reported EDTA Chelation Therapy to benefits with up to 50% prevention of recurrent heart attacks and 43 percent reduction in all causes death rate. Dr. Gervasio Lamas, principal investigator of the National Institute of Health (USA) sponsored Trial to Assess Chelation Therapy (TACT) presented results at the American Heart Association meeting in Los Angeles in 2012. The randomized, placebo-controlled study was conducted on 1,708 patients in 134 medical centres across the U.S. and Canada by cardiologists from prestigious medical schools at a cost of $30 million. Statistical analysis showed intravenous chelation therapy decreased subsequent cardiac events when compared to a control group of similar patients who received placebo. There were fewer deaths, fewer heart attacks, and fewer strokes, less need for cardiovascular surgery, and fewer hospitalizations for heart problems. Chelation therapy was shown to be safe, without any serious side effects. Patients experienced increasing benefits during the five years they were studied up to. Diabetic patients appeared to do better than the non-diabetic patients. This could be due to micro circulation being affected more than macro circulation in diabetic patients.

While we wait or the last word on treatment of small vessel disease, the best option would be to look into ways of preventing small vessel disease - controlling the major risk factors of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and obesity. Things than can be done that may help reduce risk include eating a heart-healthy diet with low saturated fat and cholesterol in the diet. Eating a heart-healthy diet that includes plenty of whole grains, lean meat, low-fat dairy, and fruits and vegetables. Also, watch the salt and fat intake as eating too much salt and saturated or trans fats may increase your blood pressure and cholesterol. Regular exercise, even 30 minutes a day, helps improve heart muscle function and keeps blood flowing through your arteries and prevent a heart attack by helping achieve and maintain a healthy weight and control diabetes, elevated cholesterol and high blood pressure. And last but not the least stop smoking or use of any other tobacco products totally.
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Jun 24, 2015

Gurgaon’s ITM University bags Best Private University of Haryana Award

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Gurgaon’s ITM University bags Best Private University of Haryana Award
Gurgaon’s ITM University was awarded ‘Best Private University of Haryana’ by Dialogue India Academia at a recent award function in Delhi. The Chief Guest of the occasion was Sh. Sanjay Singh, Member of Parliament from Uttar Pradesh. Prof (Dr) Prem Vrat, Pro Chancellor and Brig. SK Sharma (Retd.), Pro Vice-Chancellor of ITM University received the award from Sh. Singh.

Speaking on the occasion, Prof. Vrat identified the key factors for continued academic excellence at ITM University, Gurgaon. “The passion to excel with excellent life quality infrastructure, efficient and IT enabled teaching-learning processes is key to ITM University’s success year after year,” he said. He was also a panelist and speaker at the valedictory session of the event.

ITM University, Gurgaon was given the first rank among Private Universities of Haryana out of 17 Private Universities of the State. The Annual Survey 2015 was conducted by Dialogue India, a Delhi based publication.

ITM University has also been titled as No. 1 Emerging University in India, in a survey by Higher Education Review. It did well in the Edu-Rand survey, June 2015, based on Rand Corp of USA process, with an All India ranking of 71 out of 795 Engineering Colleges in India. Many of these awards have ranked the University consistently in the top slots in the last several years due to its commitment in imparting quality education in Engineering, Management and Law at the UG, PG and PhD level. The University also provides fee concessions and scholarships to over 200 students annually
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