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Government regrets flight delays due to minister, staff

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New Delhi: Following a central minister and a state official recently causing flight delays and inconvenience to air passengers and the Prime Minister’s Office seeking a report on it, Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapati Raju on Thursday expressed regrets and assured that such episodes would not recur.

At a press conference here, Raju said he has called for an investigation into the matter pertaining to the central minister and was awaiting for the first reports to come in before initiating action. He did not spell out what action was contemplated.

“I’ve called in for information. But since people have been inconvenienced, I as the civil aviation minister of this country offer my apologies. Let the first reports come in. Let us know the truth and I will do my duty,” Raju added.

At the same time, the minister sought to brush aside the matter.

“These things routinely happen with all the airlines, not just Air India. In fact, they have been operating on time and serving the Indian skies well,” he said, adding that his colleagues were actually complaining that they were missing flights due to Air India’s on-time performance.

The minister’s reaction came after the Prime Minister’s Office asked the civil aviation ministry for a report on the delay in two Air India flights on account of VIP travels.

“PMO India asks Ministry of Civil Aviation for a report on delay in #AirIndia flights on account of VIP travels in the recent past,” Press Information Bureau chief Frank Noronha tweeted.

The civil aviation minister said it was in public knowledge that the PMO had inquired about the recent flight delays. “But we have not yet received any formal inquiry from them. But it is expected soon.”

The controversy was triggered after three passengers were reportedly taken off an Air India flight at Leh in order to accommodate union Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju and an aide last week.

On Thursday, Rijiju clarified that he was unaware that an Air India flight was allegedly delayed and three passengers made to de-board to accommodate him and an aide at the last minute.

“Usually, I am informed about all my travel arrangements while I am on an official assignment,” Rijiju told IANS from Darjeeling, where he has gone to check the damage caused by landslides in the hill district of West Bengal.

“But I can’t be blamed for the happening as the Leh administration didn’t inform me on what basis they were making the changes to accommodate me on the Air India flight,” the minister added.

Earlier this week, an Air India flight from Mumbai to New York, with Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on board, was reportedly delayed by nearly an hour. This was allegedly done to accommodate a member of his entourage.

While Fadnavis denied any such hold-up, Air India confirmed the delay, albeit for different reasons.

“The flight AI-191 of 29th of June 15 was delayed by total 57 minutes. The delay was partly due to technical/operational reasons and also due to ATC (air traffic control),” an airline official said in a statement.

Senior Air India official told IANS that the government has given clear instructions not to give any undue privileges or advantages to any individual, even government servants or ministers.

“There were many erstwhile practices and protocols that have been stopped. Now no price concession or preference based seats are allotted to anyone. Nor any changes done in the boarding or de-boarding procedures even for VIP travellers,” a senior Air India official told IANS here.

“However, some safety practices are still maintained which are mandatory. But the latest incidents have nothing to do with them.”

Meanwhile, the opposition Congress criticized the government and demanded an apology from the minister who caused inconvenience to passengers. The opposition termed the occurrences as “misdeeds” of the ruling party.

“Just because the prime minister is keeping mum, these issues are not going to be kept under carpet. We demand that the ministers who misused their authority and put ordinary passengers to difficulty and to great hardship should apologize openly,” senior Congress leader P.C. Chako told the media here.

(IANS)

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Sainik School Model to be Incorporated in Non-Military Schools, suggests Prime Minister’s Office to HRD

The elements of military school training the PMO wants to introduce in regular schools include discipline, physical training and ‘patriotic sentiments’

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Sainik school
Two Army T-55 Tanks dedicated to Sainik School, Korukonda. Wikimedia
  • PMO advised HRD ministry to include elements of a Sainik school in regular school
  • The inclusion of elements will incorporate “holistic development” of students
  • Kendriya Vidyalayas and Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas will have Sainik school like features

July 21, 2017: The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has advised the HRD Ministry to include elements of a military school in regular schools too. This will incorporate discipline, physical fitness, and patriotism in non-military schools. The PMO has suggested the inclusion of such elements in all schools for “holistic development” of students. According to a report, the meeting on Tuesday, July 18 was called out by the PMO to discuss the proposal with Senior HRD officials.

The idea of introducing military elements in schools was first introduced under the NDA government at a meeting of the Central Advisory Board of Education (highest government advisory body on education) held in October last year. In the meeting, Mahendra Nath Pandey, Minister of state for HRD accentuated the importance of military education for students to promote the idea of patriotism and nationalism, mentioned Indian Express report.

He further adds,  if 2,000 of the 10,000 students at Nalanda University were trained in military education, they would have foiled “Bakhtiyar Khilji’s plan” to plunder and raze the institute.

Sainik Schools were established in 1961 by the then Defence Minister V K Krishna Menon with the purpose of preparing youngsters for the defense services.

[bctt tweet=”Sainik Schools were established in 1961 to prepare youngsters for the defense services. ” username=”NewsGramdotcom”]

The HRD ministry is exploring new ways to introduce Sainik School like features in Kendriya Vidyalayas (KVs) and Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas (JNVs), which are also residential school. The PMO’s suggestion was also discussed with the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE).

ALSO READ: Five boarding schools which teach Army training in India

Students at these residential schools have to join the National Cadet Corps (NCC), undergo rigorous physical training and adopt patriotic lives. The Ministry of Defence directs 25 such schools.

Stressing on the binding need for nationalism and patriotism in CABE meeting, Madhya Pradesh’s education minister also affirmed that more Sainik Schools should be set up by the government.

-Prepared by Staff writer at Newsgram