New Zealand PM Hails Indian Business Community’s Contribution to Economy

first_imgNew Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has praised the Indian business community for their contributions in her homeland.Ardern said on Nov. 27 that she hoped the Indian community would continue to strengthen the efforts of the New Zealand government in closer economic engagement with India, reported. She was speaking at an award event in Auckland where Indian businessperson were felicitated.Ardern said that bilateral trade with India, currently placed at $2.2 billion, had the potential to grow further. Indians make up at least 5 per cent of the population in New Zealand. In the next 25 years, broad Asian ethnic group is supposed to grow from 12 to 22 percent, according to Stats New Zealand. Chinese and Indian ethnic population will almost double during the span, according to Stats NZ.“My government is focusing on creating opportunities for businesses to grow and awards such as the Indian Newslink Indian Business Awards are important to recognize and reward business successes,” Ardern said at the event, which was also attended by Auckland Mayor Phil Goff. He also praised the Indian community and said that they had been true partners in the progress of the New Zealand economy.Pleasure to join with the Prime Minister at the Indian Newslink Indian Business Awards tonight very elegant in her Sari.— Phil Goff (@phil_goff) November 27, 2017Ardern, even before becoming the prime minister, tried to align herself with the Indian community by celebrating Diwali in Auckland in October 2017. The 37-year-old leader of the Labour Party had good things to say about her conversation with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the India-ASEAN summit held at Manila in the Philippines earlier this month.“I had good conversations with a range of people, but Modi [India] was really engaged, interested in New Zealand, knew a lot about our relationship,” she was quoted as saying in an earlier report by “I put another plugin for a visit [by him], and I think maybe we got that a little further on. We haven’t had a visit by a Prime Minister from India since the 80s. It would be wonderful to try to encourage him to join us,” Ardern said after returning home from the Asia tour. Related ItemsAucklandJacinda ArdernNew Zealandlast_img read more

In Battle With Amazon, Walmart Pushes Deeper Into Entertainment

first_imgWalmart is going Hollywood.The world’s largest retailer, in a constant battle with its rival Amazon, said this week that it was teaming up with two entertainment companies, one old school and the other on the industry’s cutting edge.Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer has agreed to create short-form original series for Walmart’s ad-supported streaming service, Vudu. Those are expected to debut early next year. It is the first of many studios that Walmart expects to work with in creating new content for Vudu, a spokesman for the retailer said Wednesday.Walmart is also investing in a joint venture with Eko, a New York startup that focuses on “interactive storytelling,” a video format that allows viewers to control the plot of commercials and television episodes.The investment with Eko totals $250 million, according to two people briefed on the matter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss details of the deal. It is thought to be the largest bet on the interactive entertainment niche, which has long tantalized producers as a potential gold mine but has never gained widespread adoption.“We are not trying to become a studio,” said Scott McCall, a senior vice president for entertainment, toys and seasonal at Walmart. “It is our hope that we will work with studios to reimagine what new content looks like.”Walmart, based in Bentonville, Arkansas, has been seeking to expand its business beyond brick-and-mortar retailing. With most of the nation saturated by its big-box stores, Walmart has been experimenting with a flurry of new ventures, including starting a high-end concierge service in Manhattan and acquiring India’s leading e-commerce site, Flipkart. Now it’s turning to content creation.Walmart’s substantial investment is a validation for Eko, which was co-founded by 37-year-old Yoni Bloch, who described himself in an interview in his New York office as “a relatively famous singer in Israel.” He has also been a judge on the Israeli version of “American Idol.”Walmart was introduced to Eko when the retailer’s chief executive, Doug McMillon, met Bloch while visiting Israel last year.The two companies started working together on an interactive presentation that Eko prepared for Walmart’s shareholder meeting — the annual corporate pep rally in Bentonville attended by thousands of workers.Walmart sees interactive storytelling — essentially a video version of “Choose Your Own Adventure” books — as something that can be used in both entertainment and advertising.There could be a cooking show, for instance, that helps viewers buy the ingredients online as they watch. Or a love story in which viewers can choose what happens to the characters. In turn, each choice could help Walmart glean insight into the viewers’ preferences and attitudes.“The idea is around leapfrogging what everyone else is doing,” Bloch said.A cross between a video game and traditional television, interactive storytelling has been held back by technology hurdles and tricky funding. Making one great traditional ad or TV episode is expensive enough, much less one that branches off in different directions depending on what choices people make while viewing.Interactive content has also been hindered by a generational divide. Older consumers — and media executives — are accustomed to a passive viewing experience and have a hard time grasping this way of participating in storytelling. Younger viewers are the opposite. (Netflix already has a few interactive shows aimed at children.)Eko is far from alone in chasing the promise of interactive content, but it has a secret weapon: Nancy Tellem. Tellem, who is Eko’s executive chairman (and also sits on the MGM board), gives Eko considerable credibility in Hollywood. She worked in senior jobs at CBS and Warner Bros. Television for roughly two decades before joining Microsoft in 2012 to create an Xbox-centered television business. Microsoft shut down her division in 2015.For Bloch, Walmart reminds him of youthful visits to the United States.“Walmart was to me the symbol of America,” he said. “I just remember my mom said we have to go to Walmart because everything is big and cheap there.”He started his company in 2010 with his bandmates, many of whom had a background in computing.Eko has attracted investments from Silicon Valley firms like Sequoia Capital, as well as establishment backers like Warner Music and Intel. In addition to the $250 million investment in the joint venture, Walmart has invested an undisclosed amount in Eko directly.Many of the details about the joint venture are still being worked out — like where these shows or advertisements can be viewed. Walmart and Eko said they would share in any revenue.Walmart raised its visibility in Hollywood during this year’s Academy Awards, when the company sponsored three short films, featuring the work of three female directors: Melissa McCarthy, Nancy Meyers and Dee Rees. The films, which were inspired by a Walmart e-commerce box, doubled as an advertisement for the retailer.The first project to come from the MGM partnership, which was announced at a conference Wednesday in Los Angeles, will be a “reimagining” of the comedy “Mr. Mom,” which will debut on Vudu early next year.McCall said Vudu would work with MGM on revitalizing other classic movies and creating entirely new content.c.2018 New York Times News Service Related Itemslast_img read more

Then & Now

first_imgTHENZeenat Aman cultivated a sexual persona in Bollywood well ahead of its times in a string of movies in roles that ranged from a gold digger in Roti Kapada Aur Makan, a hippie, in Hare Rama Hare Krishna to a hooker in Manoranjan.Birthdate: November 19, 1951Birthplace: GermanySiblings: Only childEducation: Graduated from St. Xavier’s School in Mumbai; college in Los AngelesFirst job: Journalist for Femina, followed by modeling.Achievements: Starred in 81 movies in 1970s and 1980s. Second runner-up Miss India Contest; Miss Asia Pacific (1970).Debut film: Hulchul 1971First Blockbuster: Hare Rama Hare Krishna with Dev Anand 1972Marriage: Mazhar Khan who died in 1998Children: Two sonsNickname: BabushkaMarital status: WidowedNOWZeenat Aman’s last movie in her heydays was Gawahi (1989). She now lives with her two teenage sons and makes frequent social appearances, often at Bollywood premiers. She made her first reappearance on the screen in 1999 in Bhopal Express (1999), followed byBoom (2003). In 2006, she acted in Jaana: Let’s Fall In Love with Rajesh Khanna. Another movie Sirf Romance: Love by Chance will be released this year.After the death of her actor husband Mazhar Khan in 1998 she had a very ugly public spat with her in laws and fought them over custody of one of her children.She looked back in an interview recently on her sultry reputation: “Now that I’m a mom I look back at certain scenes and feel they were a little too sensuous. Fortunately my sons are so much into their own lives, they aren’t interested in my films, though the elder one has seen some of my films.” Related Itemslast_img read more

Reverse Reverse Discrimination

first_imgParents of an 11-year-old Indian American denied admission to a New York public school for gifted children are protesting the school district’s racial quota rules that locked her out. Nikita Rau, 11, who was denied admission the Mark Twain Intermediate School for gifted children, told The New York Post, “I feel bad because I would have gotten in if I was white.”The school reserves 60 percent of its seats for white students and 40 percent for minorities. As a result white students need a score of 77 on New York’s standardized test to get into the school, against a score of 84.4 required by minorities. Rau scored 79.  Related Itemslast_img read more

US Tops In India Tourism

first_imgThe US has displaced the UK as the country with the largest number of tourists visiting India.Nearly 800,000 American tourists visited India last year, representing almost 1 in 7 of the more than 5 million foreign tourists to visit the country.   USA    799,000UK    796,000Bangladesh     480,000 Canada    208,000France    204,000Sri Lanka    204,000Germany    184,000Japan    145,000Australia    135,000Malaysia    112,000All Foreign Tourists    5,080,000 Related Itemslast_img read more

Converse Recalls Jimi Hendrix Shoe

first_imgConverse has withdrawn a pair of Chuck Taylors shoes depicting guitar legend Jimi Hendrix with Hindi dieties following protests by Hindu community activists.A Converse spokesman said, “We apologize for the unintentional offence and have decided to immediately discontinue the sales of the Jimi Hendrix/Axis shoes.” In an email to Beth Kulkarni, of the Hindus of Greater Houston, who protested to Converse, the company spokesman wrote: “Converse designed the Converse Chuck Taylor Jimi Hendrix/Axis shoe to demonstrate our support of music culture and to celebrate the contributions of the global music icon, Jimi Hendri. With approval of the Hendrix estate, we applied artwork taken directly from the 1967 Axis: Bold as Love album cover. The cover art included images of Hindu deities. Our ambitions were to honor the music of Jimi Hendrix. It was not our intent to offend Hindu culture by having Hindu deities on footwear.”The shoes, which sold for $60 on Zappos, Eastbay and the Converse websites, are no longer available.   Related Itemslast_img read more

Duck yourself!

first_imgPlay golf at your own risk, a New York appeals court has ruled in dismissing a personal injury claim by a Long Island neuroradiologist Azad Anand against his golf buddy endocrinologist Anoop Kapoor, who blinded him in one eye with an errant shot at Long Island’s Dix Hills Golf Course in 2002. The state Court of Appeals said Kapoor’s failure to scream “fore” — which is traditionally used by golfers to warn others of an errant shot — before accidentally zinging Anand did not amount to intentional or reckless conduct: “Kapoor’s failure to warn of his intent to strike the ball did not amount to intentional or reckless conduct, and did not unreasonably increase the risks inherent in golf to which Anand consented. Rather, the manner in which Anand was injured—being hit without warning by a “shanked” shot while one searches for one’s own ball—reflects a commonly appreciated risk of golf.” Donk!   Related Itemslast_img read more

Dope: State drug controller of Punjab suspended

first_imgThe Punjab government on Thursday suspended the state drug controller with immediate effect in the wake of reports of availability of banned drugs in certain shops outside National Institute of Sports at Patiala.”The Punjab Health Department suspended Bhag Singh, State Drug Controller with immediate effect,” a spokesman said in Chandigarh.”Bhag Singh has been suspended for negligence of duties,” he added.Noting that during the period of suspension, he would be required to report at the Punjab Health System Corporation SAS Nagar Mohali headquarters and will not be allowed to leave without a prior permission.Meanwhile, the health department on Thursday began cancellation of licenses of chemist shops for selling banned steroids without prescription to the players receiving training in National Institute of Sports.On the instructions of Punjab Health Minister Satpal Gosian, the health department raided shops in the vicinity of NIS Patiala and three shops were found selling banned steroids and records of seven shops were found not in order.Ten shops were issued show cause notice by the department.- With PTI inputslast_img read more

Edgbaston Test: Sam Curran inspired by ‘how Virat Kohli batted with the tail’

first_imgIt was billed to be a contest between Englands most prolific wicket-taker James Anderson and Indias top batsman Virat Kohli.But in the end, an unlikely 20-year-old playing in only his second test match stole the limelight from his more established peers and dragged his team to victory over the worlds top ranked test nation in the first match of a five game series.Sam Curran grabbed four top Indian wickets in the first innings and gave his team a precious 13-run lead despite a century by Indian skipper Kohli.Then in the second innings, with England on the ropes at 87 for 7, he strung together two valuable partnerships that saw England put up an overall target of 194 runs for the hosts to win.Always a miss whenever Ben Stokes is not playing: Joe RootPlaying with confidence, the left arm swing bowler who plays for county Surrey, first combined with Adil Rashid for 48 runs, which was the biggest of the English innings, and then 41 with fast bowler Stuart Broad for the ninth wicket.The 20-year-old, playing only his second Test match, then struck a gritty 63 off 65 balls to take his side out of the woods, much like visiting skipper Kohli did by scoring a majestic 149 in India’s first essay as all other batsmen fell around him.”To be honest, I looked to learn from how Virat batted with the tail in the first innings,” Curran said at the post-match presentation ceremony.England managed to set India a target of 194 riding Curran’s tenacious rearguard action. Eventually, Kohli’s 51 fell short as England won the 31 runs to take a 1-0 lead in the five match rubber.advertisementNasser Hussain criticises Virat Kohli’s captaincy as India lose in Edgbaston”I spoke to Kumar (Sangakkara) the other day in the hotel and he told me a thing or two about batting with the tail and was lucky it all came off the middle in the end,” Curran added.ICC trolls Virat Kohli with mic drop tweet after India lose Edgbaston TestWith the ball, Curran was superb too, returning career-best figures of 4/74 in the first dig to shave off India’s topo order.”I can’t take it all at the moment. It is all very special and feels like a dream,” said the Northampton-born younger brother of Tom Curran.1st Test: Joe Root ‘thrilled to bits’ after England win cliff-hanger vs India”Just couldn’t get any sleep last night. Obviously when Jimmy (Anderson) took Karthik out first up it gave us a lot of confidence.MATCH REPORT | HIGHLIGHTS”Luckily for (Ben) Stokesy, he got a perfect spell this morning and changed it for us. I just try to take it like another game, but it is quite hard with the Barmy Army chanting out there, but I look to take it all in and am trying to learn in only my second game,” Curran said describing the emotions during the fourth day’s play when the match was on a knife’s edge.India needed 84 to win with Kohli and stumper Dinesh Karthik still at the crease while resumign the day at 110/5. But Anderson removed Karthik in the first over of the day and later Stokes got the better of Kohli and Pandya.”This (Test cricket) is what I always wanted — playing Test cricket in front of these big crowds, with these guys I have grown up watching and I am looking to learn everything I can from guys like Jimmy, Broad, Stokes everyday,” Curran signed off.Curran made his Test and one-day international debut for England earlier this year and his swing bowling, especially against the Indian top order, impressed his peers.”Sam Curran has a great amount of skill, very exciting and promising cricketer,” skipper Joe Root said.(With IANS inputs)last_img read more

3 days agoAWESOME! Max Taylor makes emotional Man Utd U23 debut

first_imgAWESOME! Max Taylor makes emotional Man Utd U23 debutby Paul Vegas3 days agoSend to a friendShare the loveManchester United defender Max Taylor was proud to make his U23 debut last night.Taylor was named on the bench as his recovery from cancer treatment continued. But he was sent on to make his debut at this level in a 4-1 win over Swansea City.Taylor impressed after entering the pitch on 37 minutes.He later posted to social media: “What a feeling. Back on the pitch with the boys and a 4-1 win”.What a feeling. Back on the pitch with the boys and a 4-1 win— Max Taylor (@maxtaylor00) October 21, 2019 About the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your saylast_img read more

Oregon Football Has Reportedly Made A Defensive Coordinator Hire

first_imgA general view during the game between the Oregon Ducks and the Washington Huskies.EUGENE, OR – OCTOBER 08: A general view during the game between the Oregon Ducks and the Washington Huskies on October 8, 2016 at Autzen Stadium in Eugene, Oregon. The Huskies defeated the Ducks 70-21. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)Oregon’s football program has been searching for a new defensive coordinator for a couple of weeks, as the Ducks parted ways with veteran DC Jim Leavitt earlier this month.The Ducks have reportedly found their man. Multiple outlets are reporting that Oregon has gone to Boise State for its next defensive coordinator.Dave Southorn is reporting that Boise State defensive coordinator Andy Avalos is leaving the Broncos for the same position at Oregon.“Breaking: Boise State DC Andy Avalos will leave to take the same job at Oregon,” he tweeted.The hiring has been confirmed by Bruce Feldman of The Athletic.“SOURCE: #BoiseState defensive coordinator Andy Avalos is expected to become the new DC at #Oregon.. the move was 1st reported by Dave Southorn,” he reports.Avalos is a former Boise State linebacker and he’s been the Broncos’ defensive coordinator for the past three seasons.Oregon got a good look at Avalos at the end of the 2017 season, when Boise State’s defense held the Ducks to 280 yards and 4-of-14 on third downs in the Las Vegas Bowl.The hiring has yet to be officially announced.last_img read more

After Pulwama attack, India hikes import duty on Pakistani goods to 200 per cent

first_imgAfter Pulwama attack, India hikes import duty on Pakistani goods to 200 per centIndia on Friday revoked the MFN status to Pakistan in the aftermath of the Pulwama terror attack. The country invoked a security exception clause of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to withdraw this status. Both the countries are member of this organisation.advertisement Press Trust of India New DelhiFebruary 17, 2019UPDATED: February 17, 2019 11:35 IST The decision would significantly hit Pakistan’s exports to India. (Photo: PTI)HIGHLIGHTSIndia granted the MFN status to Pakistan way back in 1996Slapping an import duty of 200 per cent effectively means almost banning the imports from Pakistan, official sources saidThe two main items imported from Pakistan are fruits and cement, on which the current customs duty is 30-50 per cent and 7.5 per centTaking strong economic action against Pakistan following the Pulwama terror attack, India Saturday raised the customs duty to 200 per cent on all goods imported from the neighbouring country, including fresh fruits, cement, petroleum products and mineral ore.The decision would significantly hit Pakistan’s exports to India, which stood at $488.5 million (around Rs 3,482.3 crore) in 2017-18 as it would drastically increase the prices of its goods here.”India has withdrawn MFN (most favoured nation) status to Pakistan after the Pulwama incident. Upon withdrawal, basic customs duty on all goods exported from Pakistan to India has been raised to 200 per cent with immediate effect,” Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said in a tweet.India has withdrawn MFN status to Pakistan after the Pulwama incident. Upon withdrawal, basic customs duty on all goods exported from Pakistan to India has been raised to 200% with immediate effect. #PulwamaArun Jaitley (@arunjaitley) February 16, 2019The two main items imported from Pakistan are fruits and cement, on which the current customs duty is 30-50 per cent and 7.5 per cent, respectively.Slapping an import duty of 200 per cent effectively means almost banning the imports from Pakistan, official sources said.India on Friday revoked the MFN status to Pakistan in the aftermath of the Pulwama terror attack. The country invoked a security exception clause of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to withdraw this status. Both the countries are member of this organisation.India can also restrict trade of certain goods and impose port-related restrictions on Pakistani goods.Items which Pakistan exports to India include fresh fruits, cement, petroleum products, bulk minerals and ores, finished leather, processed minerals, inorganic chemicals, cotton raw, spices, wool, rubber product, alcoholic beverages, medical instruments, marine goods, plastic, dyes and sport goods.advertisementIndia granted the MFN status to Pakistan way back in 1996, but the neighbouring country had not reciprocated.Under the MFN pact, a WTO member country is obliged to treat the other trading nation in a non-discriminatory manner, especially with regard to customs duty and other levies.In 2012, Pakistan had committed to giving the MFN status to India but retracted later due to domestic opposition. Instead of MFN, Pakistan said it was working on granting Non-Discriminatory Market Access (NDMA) status to India but that also was not announced.Total India-Pakistan trade has increased marginally to $2.41 billion in 2017-18 as against $2.27 billion in 2016-17. India imported goods worth $488.5 million in 2017-18 and exported goods worth $1.92 billion.During April-October 2018-19, India’s exports to Pakistan stood at $1.18 billion, while imports were $338.66 billion.India mainly exports raw cotton, cotton yarn, chemicals, plastics, manmade yarn and dyes to Pakistan.At least 40 CRPF personnel were killed and five injured on Thursday in one of the deadliest terror attacks in Jammu and Kashmir when a Jaish-e-Mohammad suicide bomber rammed a vehicle carrying over 100 kgs of explosives into their bus in Pulwama district.Also Read | Unfair to blame Islamabad for everything, Pak minister tells India TodayAlso Read | Pulwama attack: Indian envoy briefs top officials on PakistanAlso Watch | Pulwama attack: Modi government vows revengeAlso Read | No place for Imran Khan portrait at Cricket Club of India after Pulwama terror attackGet real-time alerts and all the news on your phone with the all-new India Today app. Download from Post your comment Do You Like This Story? Awesome! Now share the story Too bad. Tell us what you didn’t like in the comments Posted byShifa Naseer Tags :Follow Pulwama attacklast_img read more

Province Releases Discussion Paper on Contaminated Sites

first_imgThe province is seeking input from Nova Scotians on how best to clean up and redevelop contaminated sites. Public consultation will help government in the design of a comprehensive program for the management of such sites. “Safe and proper cleanup of contaminated sites is important to everyone,” said Environment Minister Sterling Belliveau. “Collaborating with Nova Scotians will ensure we have a program that will not only help protect our environment, but improve communities in every region of the province.” Developing regulatory tools for the redevelopment of contaminated land is a commitment of the Environmental Goals and Sustainable Prosperity Act. The discussion paper, prepared after extensive research and stakeholder involvement, proposes a number of approaches to better manage contaminated sites. To view the Cleaning Up, Help Us Make Contaminated Land Safe and Productive discussion paper, and to provide comment, visit . The discussion paper is also available at Department of Environment offices. The deadline for submissions is July 6.last_img read more

Energy companies lead US stocks lower as oil prices tumble

first_imgEnergy companies led a broad slide on Wall Street early Friday as the price of U.S. crude oil tumbled to its lowest level in more than a year. Traders are worried that a slowing global economy could hurt demand for oil. A slide in financial stocks also weighed on the market. Retailers were seeing small gains as shoppers look for deals on Black Friday.KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 index fell 8 points, or 0.3 per cent, to 2,641 as of 10 a.m. Eastern Time. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 92 points, or 0.4 per cent, to 24,372. The Nasdaq composite added 9 points, or 0.1 per cent, to 6,982. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks gave up 5 points, or 0.4 per cent, to 1,482.Trading volume could be light with the markets open for only a half day after the Thanksgiving holiday.OIL SLUMP: Crude oil prices tumbled amid worries over rising production, record output from Saudi Arabia and mounting doubts that OPEC will cede to U.S. pressure and elect to cut production at the oil cartel’s meeting next month.The benchmark U.S. crude contract slid 6.1 per cent to $51.30 per barrel in New York. That is the lowest in over a year. The contract gained $1.20 on Wednesday. Brent crude, the international standard, lost 4.3 per cent to $59.88 per barrel in London. It lost 88 cents the day before.Experts say the U.S. is increasing pressure on Saudi Arabia and OPEC to not cut production, as the Saudis had indicated they would, at their meeting on Dec. 6. U.S. President Donald Trump may have some leverage by not sanctioning Saudi Arabia over the death of a dissident writer. With oil supply already ample, that could push prices down further.The slide in oil prices weighed on energy stocks. Marathon Oil dropped 3.2 per cent to $15.88.SHOCKER: Tesla fell 1.6 per cent to $332.63 after the electric auto maker said it intends to cut prices for its Model X and Model S cars in China to make them more affordable.BLACK FRIDAY: Traders had their eye on retailers as Black Friday, the traditional start to the crucial holiday shopping season, got underway. Amazon rose 0.8 per cent to $1,528.80. Gap added 0.2 per cent to $25.86.BOND YIELDS: Bond prices were little changed. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note held at 3.04 per cent.CURRENCIES: The dollar fell to 112.76 yen from 113.06 yen late Wednesday. The euro weakened to $1.1352 from $1.1388. The pound strengthened to $1.2833 from $1.2788.MARKETS OVERSEAS: Major indexes in Europe declined as traders weighed the latest developments in Britain’s desired exit from the European Union. Both sides were finalizing the terms of the divorce Friday and expected to sign off on the deal Sunday, though it’s unclear whether the British parliament will pass the deal. Germany’s DAX index slid 0.3 per cent, while France’s CAC 40 dropped 0.4 per cent. The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares lost 0.5 per cent.Earlier in Asia, South Korea’s Kospi shed 0.6 per cent and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index dropped 0.4 per cent. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 bucked the trend, gaining 0.4 per cent. Shares fell in Taiwan and rose in Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia. Japanese markets were closed for a holiday.Alex Veiga, The Associated Presslast_img read more

Decluttering the energy sector

first_img‘5S’ is a Japanese method of proper housekeeping that generates benefits in the quality improvement process. The five ‘S’s stand for sorting, setting in order, shining/ cleaning/ removing the clutter, standardising, and sustaining. It is high time that Indian thinks of decluttering its energy sector with multifarious pursuits and sustaining it through long-term visionary clean energy optics. The world is driven by energy. The country that has more energy in its kitty is more powerful and rich in terms of serving its citizens better than the ones that have less or none. Also Read – A special kind of bondHere, we are talking about primary energy resources, mainly fossil fuels. With the exploitation of technologies, primary energy sources can be converted into secondary sources. The burning of coal not only gave humanity the steam engine but also the Industrial Revolution. With the application of energy, we won several frontiers and virtually became the rulers of this planet. However, like all proverbial good or great things, fossil fuels are now at their lowest ebb. The reason for this is our dissolute activities, which are also the principal source for primary energy depletion. Also Read – Insider threat managementWe need to contemplate about our bustling primary energy usage. Anyway, eventually, it will vanish, even though we can stretch a bit by employing sustainability in our approach. Then, we need to start with alternatives and as we choked this planet with emissions and discharges, now we need to harness only clean energy. The Indian government has taken a forward-looking step by reducing customs duty of up to 30 per cent on electric vehicles (EVs) since January 2019, especially for domestically assembled EVs. Meanwhile, since 2008-09, clean diesel technology has been promoted and dirty diesel has been discouraged and the Indian government gave signals towards EVs. Subsequently, it upgraded the emission standards and successively promoted hybrid technologies and then focussed on the upgradation from hybrid to EVs periodically. However, the question is: Are our EVs really good in terms of energy efficiency and environmental-friendly practices? The Indian government, as the leader of one-sixth of humanity, has no other choice but to make promises in international fora and commissions. But is our motor industry in harmony with that approach? How long will it take to come out from the somniferous state? What is needed are enforceable guidelines and water-tight deadlines. The motor industry can also think of giving rebate to the customers that partly needs to be absorbed by the government in the form of discounting taxes. There needs to be a big vision and enforceable mission along with a deadline to end dirty fuel usage. If it was possible for Delhi to enforce Compressed Natural Gas, then why not enforce contrived EVs and kick out the dirty fuel altogether? There are around 1.7 million buses in India running with dirty fuel. There is a great opportunity to go for clean energy in this sector. Probably since 30 per cent of its air pollution is generated by motor vehicles through Particulate Matter2.5, recently Delhi tendered for 1000 electric buses, a very good number indeed, but it would dwarf if compared with China where 1.2 million electric buses are making the giant stride for a cleaner globe. Mumbai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and a few other cities are running electric buses for the trial purposes. So far, Himachal Pradesh is having a good number (25) of electrical buses in its operation and plans to tender 220 more electric buses in its fleet. China took a quantum leap in 2009 after choking from pollution and earmarked seven strategic industries for future growth. Out of those seven, two were from alternative fuel and EVs. Like China, our motor industry needs to come out from the torpor. We expect the Indian government would lead from the front by giving enforceable guidelines as well as sustained efforts to be imparted for building country-wide electrical charging booths/stations for EVs. We know now that lot of waterways/ferries are opening up, but emphasis should be given to the use of clean fuels, not the dirty fuel anymore. Sustained efforts to be made for cleaning the Ganges and cleaning India for posterity and ourselves. Just remember, Gurugram has been crowned as the ‘most polluted city on earth’. But I believe it would happily like to renounce the title. It can if it adopts a systemic clean energy approach. (The author is an IITD alumnus with two decades of specialisation in the fields of environment, energy, health, safety and quality in India, the Middle East, Europe and North America. The views are strictly personal)last_img read more

NCLAT seeks Anil Ambani’s reply on HSBC Daisy’s contempt plea

first_imgNew Delhi: The NCLAT has sought a response from Reliance Group Chairman Anil Ambani within 10 days over a contempt plea filed against him and other officials by the minority shareholders alleging non-payment of dues by one of its group firms. An NCLAT bench headed by Chairman Justice S J Mukhopadhaya said he would like to hear Ambani and other respondents over the contempt petition filed by HSBC Daisy Investments (Mauritius) and some other minority shareholders of the company over alleged breach of undertaking for payment by group firm Reliance Infratel. Also Read – Thermal coal import may surpass 200 MT this fiscal”We intend to hear the learned counsel appearing on behalf of the contemnor-respondents (Anil Ambani and others),” the bench said. “They may file short reply within ten days. Rejoinder, if any, may be filed by the appellants within a week thereof,” it added. The National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT)has directed that the matter be listed on May 20, 2019 for admission. HSBC Daisy moved the appellate tribunal over alleged default of payment of Rs 230 crore by Reliance Infratel. Also Read – Food grain output seen at 140.57 mt in current fiscal on monsoon boostDuring the proceedings, counsel appearing for HSBC Daisy submitted that the order passed by NCLAT on June 29, 2018 amounts to an undertaking given by the parties in a consent decree over payment of Rs 230 crore and a breach of such undertaking amounts to Contempt of Court. As per the consent terms of the agreement between Reliance Infratel, HSBC Daisy and others, recorded by the NCLAT in its order dated June 26, 2018, the Anil Ambani-owned firm was to pay the amount in the next six months. The six-month period has come to an end following which HSBC Daisy and other nine minority shareholders holding 4.26 per cent stake in Reliance Infratel filed the contempt plea. Earlier, on January 2, NCLAT had disposed of the contempt plea filed by HSBC Daisy on technical grounds. However, the tribunal had given it the liberty to withdraw its plea to approach again with its contempt plea against the officials of Reliance Infratel. HSBC Daisy and other minority investors of Reliance Infratel had moved National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) Mumbai alleging oppression and mismanagement after the company had allegedly not taken their consent for selling the tower and fiber assets.last_img read more

Poland’s political leader on unprecedented defensive

WARSAW, Poland — Jaroslaw Kaczynski, Poland’s most powerful politician who has built his position on a reputation of honesty and anti-communist convictions, suddenly finds himself embroiled in revelations over his involvement in complex business dealings and the presence in his inner circle of people with alleged communist ties.The stakes are high, given two crucial elections this year — for the European Parliament in May and for the national parliament in the fall.The scandal broke when Gazeta Wyborcza, a daily newspaper critical of ruling Law and Justice party that Kaczynski leads, published transcripts of secretly recorded business negotiations between Kaczynski and an Austrian developer about plans Kaczynski had to build twin skyscrapers on a plot of land in Warsaw. The plans have been abandoned and the disgruntled developer claims he has not been paid for the work he did.The plot is owned by a foundation that is linked to the ruling party and Kaczynski sits on its board. The foundation, the Lech Kaczynski Institute, is focused on political debate and is named after Kaczynski’s twin brother, Poland’s president who was killed in a plane crash in 2010.Reacting to the scandal, Kaczynski said in an interview that the towers were aimed at making profit and financing the foundation, in line with the law. Commentators say they were also to finance Kaczynski’s political circle and the party.The revelations raise questions because Polish law bans political parties from doing business or drawing profits from it. They also put in doubt the almost ascetic image of integrity Kaczynski has cultivated. The 69-year-old has suddenly been revealed as a shrewd and skilled business negotiator — a far cry from the lifelong bachelor who funds food for stray cats, reportedly had no bank account until a few years ago and is known for saying that “one does not go into politics for money.”In the latest development, Gazeta Wyborcza on Friday quoted testimony that, it said, the Austrian developer, Gerald Birgfellner, recently gave to prosecutors. It quoted Birgfellner as saying that Kaczynski had advised him to give 100,000 zlotys (23,000 euros) to another member of the foundation’s council to obtain his permission for the launch of the construction. The paper quoted Birgfellner as saying he delivered an envelope with half of the amount to Kaczynski’s office and saw him holding it.A government member, Jacek Sasin, called the publication “fake news” aimed at “hunting down an honest politician that Jaroslaw Kaczynski is.”Opposition parties, though, are demanding an investigation into the allegations by prosecutors and by the Central Anti-Corruption Bureau that was set up in 2006 by a government that Kaczynski led at the time.The troubles follow separate allegations of corruption of a party appointee, the head of the State Financial Supervision Authority, and of surprisingly high earnings of aides to the head of the state-owned National Bank of Poland.“The party that was to be the yardstick of ethics in politics is mixing business with politics like none other,” Boguslaw Chrabota, chief editor of the Rzeczpospolita daily, wrote in a recent commentary. He said that the latest scandal amounts to a “serious crisis of image” because it “hits at the party’s very heart and brain.” He was referring to Kaczynski, who is considered the most powerful person in the country, guiding the government even though formally he is only a lawmaker.The revelations have exposed Kaczynski as having the decisive voice in the multimillion-euro project to build the skyscrapers, dubbed K-Towers. They also showed Kaczynski as being reluctant to pay Birgfellner for some 14 months of preparatory work on the project that never materialized.Birgfellner, who is the son-in-law of Kaczynski’s first cousin, recorded the talks in Kaczynski’s tightly guarded office.He requested payment of millions of zlotys (hundreds of thousands of euros), but Kaczynski said Birgfellner needed to provide detailed invoices or seek a court order for the payment. The developer felt cheated and notified prosecutors, who questioned him this week.Gazeta Wyborcza published one of Birgfellner’s invoices for almost 1.6 million zlotys (euro 370,000.)Kaczynski cancelled the project last year, telling the Austrian he was fearing it might become a political burden at the time of key elections.In the recordings, Kaczynski is heard saying he is afraid people might assume that he is the one building the skyscrapers “so I must be a very rich man. We cannot allow that.”In an interview for the pro-government Sieci weekly, Kaczynski insisted that “there is nothing there” to blame him for. He said that “no regulation has been broken” and that a lawmaker and party leader is allowed to sit on a foundation board and hold business negotiations. He argued that there are no financial ties whatsoever between the party and the foundation. He is demanding a public apology from Gazeta Wyborcza and threatening a court case.It is the first time that Kaczynski and his party, which stormed to power in 2015 elections on a generous social agenda, find themselves on the defensive. Still, the party remains Poland’s most popular political force with strong support.High on the party’s agenda is the removal from public life of people who collaborated with communist-era secret security. But media have also revealed that a close Kaczynski associate and former head of the foundation, Kazimierz Kujda, who also negotiated with Birgfellner, was an active collaborator in the 1980s.Party members reacted with surprise and Kujda resigned.A spotlight is also on Kaczynski’s most trusted head of office, Barbara Skrzypek, who has some shares in a company owned by the Kaczynski foundation. In the late 1980s she worked as a secretary in the office of communist-era Prime Minister Zbigniew Messner, and later in the office of Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski, when he served as democratic Poland’s first president.In the past, Kaczynski has reacted quickly to nascent scandals, removing officials in cases of wrongdoing, an approach that has helped maintain his upright image.A prominent party lawmaker, Janusz Sniadek, said party members are taking the media publications “seriously,” especially because they come ahead of the elections, but added that they are nothing but “desperate attempts to show Jaroslaw Kaczynski in a bad light, but in fact they became a certificate of his honesty and adherence to the regulations of law.”“The result of Gazeta Wyborcza’s publication is the opposite of its intentions,” Sniadek told The Associated Press.Rzeczpospolita chief editor Chrabota said he does not fully agree that the tapes show Kaczynski as an honest person because “in business it is a norm that agreements are signed and work done is paid for, rather than a court trial sought.”Monika Scislowska, The Associated Press read more

Haiti UN warns rainy season poses challenge to ongoing anticholera efforts

“The rainy season is coming and this is a great source of concern for us because the more water you have, the more the risk of new propagation of the epidemic,” said Sylvie van den Wildenberg, spokesperson for the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH).“MINUSTAH is committed to keep supporting all the humanitarian partners – those in the UN family and indeed the Government of Haiti – in order to respond in the most efficient manner to this new challenge,” she told a news conference in the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince.Ms. van den Wildenberg spoke a day after the release of a report by an independent panel set up by the UN to investigate the source of the cholera outbreak that has claimed more than 4,500 lives in Haiti since last October. The report concluded that a “confluence of circumstances,” and not the fault of any group or individual, was responsible for the fast-moving outbreak.The four-member panel of experts included a series of recommendations for the UN and the Haitian Government so they can help prevent the future introduction and spread of cholera.Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has announced that he plans to convene a task force to study the report’s findings “to ensure prompt and appropriate follow-up.”Nearly 300,000 Haitians have been sickened since the outbreak started and fresh infections and deaths continue to occur.Ms. van den Wildenberg said tremendous efforts have been made and good results achieved in the fight against cholera, but the country still remains vulnerability to the disease owing to its poor sanitation.An appeal for $175 million launched by humanitarian agencies last year to respond to the epidemic has received only 48 per cent of the requested funding, and she urged donors who made pledges to make the resources available for continuing efforts to fight the disease.The spokesperson also noted that the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Haiti, Edmond Mulet, had offered the UN’s deepest sympathies to those affected by the cholera epidemic and the families of those who had died. 5 May 2011The United Nations peacekeeping mission in Haiti will continue supporting all efforts to combat the spread of cholera in the Caribbean country, cautioning today that the forthcoming rainy season could pose fresh challenges because of the risk of contamination of water sources. read more

SecretaryGeneral voices concern about worsening situation in Sudan

In a letter dated 10 August to the Council President, Ambassador Nana Effah-Apenteng of Ghana, the Secretary-General noted that there had been an upsurge in violence in Darfur in recent weeks.Consequently, civilians were forced to flee an onslaught of indiscriminate killings, rapes, and abductions while humanitarian organizations were unable to assist hundreds of thousands of people in need.The Secretary-General called July “a harrowing month” for relief workers in the region, citing statistics from the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) showing 36 reported attacks on aid operations and nine staff members killed. “As a result of the fighting and direct targeting of humanitarians, only 50 per cent of civilians affected by the conflict can be reached by humanitarian organizations,” Mr. Annan said, noting that 1.6 million people were either inaccessible or reachable only by putting the lives of aid workers directly at risk.Scores of thousands have been killed and more than 2 million displaced during the three-year-old Darfur conflict.Mr. Annan noted there had been some progress in the implementation of the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA) since its signing in May, though some deadlines for implementing its key aspects had been missed and several rebel groups were not yet parties to the agreement.“Both DPA signatories have violated the ceasefire arrangements, while non-signatories have violated pre-existing ceasefire obligations,” he said. Against this backdrop, the prospects for international assistance operations were bleak, he said, noting that the African Union has indicated that it may not have enough money to keep its 7,000-strong Darfur operation going until its mandate expires at the end of September. The possibility of having the UN take the place of the African Mission in Sudan (AMIS) also remained in doubt, he said, since the Sudanese government continued to oppose a UN mission in Darfur. “While the Government maintains its firm opposition to this plan, the situation on the ground is deteriorating,” he said. read more