Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft operating in India grounded

All Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft operating in India grounded today: DGCA

All Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft operating in the country would be grounded by 4 p.m. on Wednesday as per the decision taken by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on Tuesday night, a senior official of the aviation watchdog told PTI.

The decision comes days after a 737 MAX 8 aircraft of the Ethiopian Airlines crashed near Addis Ababa, killing 157 people, including four Indians. SpiceJet has around 12 such aircraft in its fleet. Jet Airways five, which have been grounded already.

A Jet Airways Boeing 737 on the tarmac at Rajiv Gandhi International Airport in Hyderabad. File photo

In a statement on Wednesday, SpiceJet said,” SpiceJet has suspended Boeing 737 Max operations following the DGCA’s decision to ground the aircraft. Safety and security of our passengers, crew and operations are of utmost importance to us and we will be working with the regulator and the manufacturer to attain normalcy in our operations. We are confident of accommodating the vast majority of our passengers and minimise inconvenience.”

The decision comes days after a 737 MAX 8 aircraft of the Ethiopian Airlines crashed near Addis Ababa, killing 157 people, including four Indians. SpiceJet has around 12 such aircraft in its fleet. Jet Airways five, which have been grounded already. In a statement on Wednesday, SpiceJet said,” SpiceJet has suspended Boeing 737 Max operations following the DGCA’s decision to ground the aircraft. Safety and security of our passengers, crew and operations are of utmost importance to us and we will be working with the regulator and the manufacturer to attain normalcy in our operations. We are confident of accommodating the vast majority of our passengers and minimise inconvenience.”

Second such crash

The Ethiopian Airlines incident on Sunday was the second such crash involving a Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft in less than five months. In October last, an aircraft operated by Lion Air crashed, killing over 180 people in Indonesia.

The European Union and many other countries across the world have already banned the use of the 737 Max 8 aircraft in their respective airspace.

-PTI, NEW DELHI , MARCH 13, 2019

Army killed 138 Pakistan soldiers in 2017

Army killed 138 Pakistan soldiers in 2017 in tactical operations

The Army killed 138 Pakistan Army personnel in 2017 in tactical operations and retaliatory cross-border firings along the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir, government intelligence sources said on Wednesday.

The Indian Army lost 28 soldiers during the same period along the LoC, the sources said. The sources said the Pakistan Army usually does not acknowledge the deaths of its personnel and shows them as civilian casualties in certain cases.Army

The Indian Army has been adopting a “tough” approach in dealing with ceasefire violations and terrorist activities in Jammu and Kashmir in the last one year.

The Pakistan Army has suffered 138 fatal and 155 non-fatal casualties in tactical operations and retaliatory cross-border firings along the LoC in 2017, the intelligence sources told PTI. A total of 70 Indian Army personnel were injured during cross border firings and other incidents.

Asked about the fatalities on the Pakistani side, the Army refused to comment. However, Army spokesperson Col Aman Anand said India has been effectively retaliating against all ceasefire violations by the Pakistan Army and will continue to do so.

According to official figures, 860 incidents of ceasefire violations by Pakistani troops were reported in 2017 as against 221 last year.

The intelligence sources said Indian Army killed 27 Pakistani soldiers in sniper firing last year while seven of its soldiers lost their lives in Pakistani sniper firing along the LoC.

As part of its policy of “hot pursuit”, the Indian Army has been carrying out tactical operations to foil Pakistan Army’s support to terrorists.

In May last year, the Indian Army had said it launched “punitive fire assaults” on Pakistani positions across the LoC, inflicting “some damage”, days after two Indian Army personnel were beheaded.


H-1B visa effect: Infosys to hire 10,000 American workers

H-1B visa effect: Infosys to hire 10,000 American workers

After H-1B visa effect, Indian Information Technology major Infosys will hire about 10,000 people in the United States over the next two years and set up four technology and innovation hubs there as part of its efforts to tide over visa related issues.

Through these new hires and centres, Infosys will also focus on enhancing its play in new technology areas like artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, user experience, cloud and big data.

H-1B visa, microstatInfosys CEO Vishal Sikka told PTI that the first hub, which would open in Indiana in coming August, would create 2,000 jobs by 2021 for American workers.

The location of the other three centres would be decided over the next few months. These hubs would not only train people on technology and innovation but also help in working closely with clients in key industries such as financial services, manufacturing, healthcare, retail and energy.

The North American market accounted for over 60 per cent of Infosys’ USD 10.2 billion revenue in the 2016-17 fiscal.

Mr. Sikka, however, said these steps were not being taken just to mitigate the impact of stricter visa norms in the U.S.

He said that over the last three years, there was an increase in the use of new technologies such as AI and virtual reality and even the traditional projects were becoming highly automated.

“As work becomes more next-gen, you need a more healthier mix of global and local talent and so, you need to rethink the traditional, what has historically been called ‘global delivery model’ and bring in a lot more talent locally,” he noted.

Over the past few weeks, there has been a growing sentiment of protectionism across various markets, including the U.S. that are seeking to safeguard jobs for locals and raising the bar for foreign workers.

The U.S. had accused Infosys and its larger rival, the Tata Consultancy Services, of “unfairly” cornering the lion’s share of the H-1B work visas by putting extra tickets in the lottery system.

Every year, the U.S. grants 65,000 H-1B visas, while another 20,000 are set aside for those with US advanced degrees.

In IT firms’ defence, industry body Nasscom had said that these two companies accounted for only 7,504 —— 8.8% — of the approved H-1B visas in 2014-15. At the end of March 2017, Infosys had over 2 lakh people on its payroll.

Tech companies use work permits like the H-1B visa (in the U.S.) to send engineers to work on client sites.

The tightening of visa norms not only pushes up operational costs for these tech firms but also makes movement of skilled workforce difficult. These companies are now adjusting their business models to reduce their dependence on visas and hiring more locals overseas instead.

Mr. Sikka, however, declined to comment on the investment and current mix of locals and global hires in the U.S.

Infosys has already hired over 2,000 people in the U.S. in the last few years under Mr. Sikka.

The 10,000 people that will be hired would include experienced technology professionals and recent graduates from major universities, and local and community colleges. Infosys would also train them on key competencies such as user experience, cloud, artificial intelligence, big data and digital offerings, as well as core technology and computer science skills.

Since 2015, Infosys has trained more than 1,34,000 students, over 2,500 teachers and almost 2,500 schools across America and provided classroom equipment, through Infosys Foundation USA.

-PTI, NEW DELHI, MAY 02, 2017

Manohar Parrikar will take oath as Goa Chief Minister

Manohar Parrikar resigns as Defence Minister, will take oath as Goa Chief Minister on Tuesday

Manohar Parrikar


In a major development on Monday, Manohar Parrikar has resigned from the post of Defence Minister.

“Manohar Parrikar to be sworn in as Goa Chief Minister tomorrow at 5 PM,” news agencies confirmed.

“I have tendered my resignation as Defence Minister and have sent it to the PMO. I will be taking the oath (as Goa chief minister) tomorrow evening, along with the cabinet ministers,” Parrikar told PTI on Monday.

Asked how many ministers would be sworn in, Parrikar said, “The decision on the number of ministers and other issues are being currently worked out. Once the cabinet is finalized, we will inform the media.”

Goa Governor Mridula Sinha has invited Parrikar to form the next government in the coastal state after he submitted a letter of support from 21 legislators yesterday.

Three MLAs from the Goa Forward Party, three from the MGP and two Independents have pledged their support to Parrikar.

The BJP, which came second by winning 13 seats in the 40-member assembly after the Congress (17 seats), managed to garner support from other parties and Independents to attain majority under Parrikar.

-March 13, 2017, New Delhi


Pakistan cancels weapons licenses issued to JuD

After acknowledging Hafiz Saeed as ‘serious threat’, Pakistan cancels weapons licenses issued to JuD

After acknowledging Hafiz Saeed as 'serious threat', Pakistan cancels weapons licenses issued to JuD

The Pakistan government has now cancelled the licenses of 44 weapons issued to Jamaat-ud-Dawaah (JuD) chief Hafiz Saeed and other members of his organisations, citing security reasons.

An official of the Punjab Home Department was quoted as saying by PTI that the step has been taken in line with the government’s action against Saeed and his organisations – the Jamaat-ud-Dawaah (JuD) and the Falaha-e-Insanyat (FIF).

“The Punjab Home Department cancelled licenses of 44 weapons for security reasons,” the official was quoted as saying on Tuesday.

Interestingly, the Pakistan government has recently acknowledged JuD chief Hafiz Saeed, who has been listed under an anti-terrorism law, as “serious threat” to the nation and placed him under house arrest in the country’s “larger interest”.

 The Pakistan government had on January 30 put Saeed and four other leaders of his organizations under house arrest in Lahore for a period of 90 days.

Saeed and 37 members of JuD and FIF have also been placed on the Exit Control List, barring them from leaving the country.

According to the Punjab Home Department notification, “Both JuD and FIF are engaged in certain activities which could be prejudicial to peace and security and in violation of Pakistan’s obligations to the United Nations Security Council Resolution and both organisations have been placed in the Second Schedule of Anti-Terrorism Act 1997.”

“Hafiz Saeed, Abdullah Ubaid, Zafar Iqbal, Abdul Rehman Abid and Kashif Niazi are engaged in certain activities which could be prejudicial to peace and security.”

The federal government has also put JuD and FIF on the watch list for six months. Saeed, who is carrying a $10 million bounty on his head, was also put under house arrest after the 2008 Mumbai terror attack but he was freed by Lahore High Court in 2009.




-February 21, 2017| PTI | Lahore


BSNL to counter RelianceJio with unlimited broadband data

BSNL to counter Reliance-Jio with unlimited broadband data at Rs 249

The State-run BSNL on September 02, 2016 said it will soon launch a promotional unlimited wire-line broadband plan that effectively translates into less than Rs. 1 per GB download cost for subscribers if they use up to 300 GB data in a month.
Attempting to take Reliance Jio’s 4G offer of Rs. 50 per GB head-on, BSNL is looking to hook new customers to its wireline broadband offering. “BSNL is going to launch a very cost-effective and affordable promotional unlimited Broadband plan ‘Experience Unlimited BB 249’ from September 9, 2016,” the telecom PSU said in a statement.

The plan will enhance the customer experience towards wire-line broadband services and attract new users to experience BSNL broadband services, the corporation’s chairman cum managing director Anupam Shrivastava said in a statement. “Under this plan, customers can download unlimited Broadband data without bothering about any data limit in GB. BSNL shall offer 2 Mbps speed under this plan,” the statement said.

BSNL said that if customers use the plan continuously in a month, they can download upto 300 GB data by paying Rs 249. “Hence, per GB of data download cost comes out as less than Re 1 per GB. After six months, customer will be migrated to one of the regular broadband plan based on the choice of the customer,” BSNL said. Shrivastava added that BSNL is the only operator offering lowest per GB data download cost plan under broadband services in the country.

 At Reliance Industries’ 42th Annual General Meeting yesterday,chairman Mukesh Ambani had said data must be “affordable”. He had said that against the prevailing market rate of Rs 250 per GB, Jio’s rates will be Rs 25-50 per GB depending on data usage. Reliance Jio 4G services is targeting 100 million customers in the shortest time possible. Meanwhile, BSNL also said that it has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Telecom Department regarding performance based targets assigned to the telecom PSU.

“BSNL signs MoU with Department of Telecom every year wherein certain parameter performance based targets are assigned to BSNL, by DoT and DPE (Department of Public Enterprises). On the basis of annual achievement vis-a vis targets of the MoU, DPE evaluates company s performance and accordingly awards rating to BSNL,” the release added.

BSNL will compete Reliance Jio tariff-by-tariff

State-run Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd has termed Reliance Jio‘s entry into the market as a challenge for all operators, but said it expects to match the intense competition “tariff-by-tariff”. BSNL chairman and managing director Anupam Shrivastava told PTI that the telecom PSU will adopt an aggressive stance on tariffs going forward.

BSNL, which unveiled a promotional unlimited wireline broadband plan that effectively translates into less than Re 1 per GB download cost for very high usage subscribers, a day after Reliance Jio made public its 4G plans – believes it is in a position to match Reliance Jio’s tariffs successfully.

“It is a question of survival in the market… there is no other way but to match Jio, tariff by tariff. If tariff of Jio is aggressive, the tariff of BSNL and of all other operators is also going to be aggressive,” Shrivastava said. Terming RJio’s entry as a “challenge for all operators”, Shrivastava said competition is good for consumers as it ushers better offerings.

BSNL offers unlimited night calling on any network in the country between 9 pm to 7 am as complimentary service for all its landline customers. Last month, it announced that its landline subscribers will be able to make free unlimited calls on any mobile or landline number in the country on Sundays.
-PTI, 06 September, 2016

Madhesis start fresh protests in Nepal

Madhesis start fresh protests in Nepal against Constitution 

The protesters were carrying placards with anti- government and pro-Madhesi slogans. 

Hundreds of Madhesi protesters Sunday scuffled with Nepal police as they restarted protests against the new Constitution and press for their demands relating to more rights, adequate representation and re-demarcation of provincial boundary.

Traffic movement was disrupted in the vicinity of Singhdurbar, the main administrative complex of the country, for hours due to the protest.nepal-protest

About 2,000 protesters gathered at Singhdurbar and Nayabaneshwor areas, an hour before the government office open.
They forcefully tried to enter the prohibited areas, triggering a scuffle with riot police who were deployed to guard the important government offices. The protesters were carrying placards with anti- government and pro-Madhesi slogans.
The leaders and cadres of Federal Alliance, the grouping of seven Madhes-based political parties and 22 other ethnic groups, also joined protesters. There was heavy presence of security personnel in the area since early morning to prevent any untoward incident.
The major demands of Madhesis, mostly of Indian-origin, include re-demarcation of the seven province model of federal structure, inclusiveness and proportionate representation of marginalised groups and ethnic minorities including the Madhesis, indigenous groups and dalits in all the state bodies.
“Our other demands include proportionate representation, inclusive representation for the Madhesis and other marginalised groups in various state mechanisms, and rights related to language and citizenship certificate,” said Laxman Lal Karna, vice-president of Nepal Sadbhawana party, one of the members of the alliance, told PTI.
The alliance started their Kathmandu-centric fresh protests Saturday. Madhesis earlier had launched six-month-long agitation from September to February in which more than 50 people were killed. The agitation had also crippled the landlocked country’s economy as supplies from India were blocked.
The alliance has this time changed its strategy and focused on capital city in an attempt to draw attention of the government and other stakeholders to their demands. On Friday, Madhesi parties rejected the government’s fresh call for talks and asked the ruling coalition to create a “conducive atmosphere” for dialogue to end the political crisis.
The United Democratic Madhesi Front (UDMF), an allianceof seven Madhes-based parties, accused Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli’s government of using excessive force to suppress their agitation demanding more constitutional representation.
“Government is not serious enough to address the issues raised by the agitating Madhesi parties through dialogue,” the Front had said.
PTI | Kathmandu | May 15, 2016

BoB forex scam:RBI finds irregularities in banks’ transactions

BoB forex scam:RBI finds irregularities in banks’ transactions

Various irregularities by banks such as non-submission and inordinate delays in filing of Suspicious Transaction Reports (STRs), besides opening of accounts by several entities without fulfilling KYC norms, have been noticed by Reserve Bank of India.
The observation came as part of inspection done by the central bank after last year’s Bank of Baroda case in which Rs 6,100-crore import remittances were effected by its Ashok Vihar branch here.
Both CBI and the Enforcement Directorate are probing the huge remittances to Hong Kong from the bank. The amount was allegedly transferred in the garb of payments for imports that never took place, investigators say.
After the BoB case, RBI wrote a confidential letter to chairmen and chief executives of all commercial banks asking them to review existing policies and effect necessary improvements where warranted to avoid recurrence of such irregularities.
“While some banks have filed Cash Transaction Reports (CTRs) and STRs with Financial Intelligence Unit in time, in several cases either the CTRs or STRs were not filed or filed with inordinate delay or closed at the bank level without proper verification and regard to frequency of reporting in such accounts.
“Current accounts have been opened by several entities with banks, often even without fulfilling the KYC requirements. Several instances of banks not exercising proper due diligence have come to our notice,” it said in the letter, copy of which was received in reply to an RTI query filed by PTI.
After observing some of the transactions of select banks, RBI found that risk categorisation of accounts as well as transaction processes was not done in a proper way.
“Advance import remittances have been permitted without verifying the bonafide of transactions and without carrying out proper due diligence of both the Indian clients as well as overseas suppliers, despite clear instructions in this regard from Foreign Exchange Department, RBI,” it said.
Several structured remittances in the range of USD 80,000-99,900 have been made by the same account holder very frequently from select authorised dealer branches, the central bank said.
It added: “In many banks neither the concurrent auditors nor the internal auditors could find out irregularities in such a large scale, raising questions about the scope, coverage and capability of the internal control mechanisms.
“What was more disquieting was the fact that the abnormal spurt in import transactions in these branches vis-a-vis the performance in previous periods has not caught the attention of the controlling or head office of the bank.”
Considering the “scale and spread of such transactions”, banks were advised to immediately initiate a detailed internal audit of Authorised Dealers branches where such remittances have gone up significantly during the past two to three years.
“The scope of audit also may cover the current accounts with huge number of inward or outward Real-time gross settlement (RTGS) and National Electronic Funds Transfer (NEFT) transactions, not in sync with the declared turnover or business, KYC processes followed etc,” it said.
In reply to the RTI application, RBI has said that it is in the process of receiving the internal audit report from various banks.
-15 February 2016 | PTI | New Delhi