India head to the polls with PM Modi the front runner

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses an election campaign rally 


Tens of millions of Indians will begin voting on Thursday to cast their ballots in the first phase of a mammoth general election at which Prime Minister Narendra Modi is seen as the front-runner, campaigning on his national security record.

Voting in the first of seven rounds will be held in 91 constituencies across 20 states and federally-administered regions, amid tightened security, stepped up after violence killed seven people on Tuesday.

Pollsters say Modi’s ruling nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has been riding high on his tough stance against Pakistan, after aerial clashes between the hostile neighbors followed a February attack by JeM owned the responsibility of killing 40 Indian security personnel in Pulwama.

But the main opposition Congress party, which wrested three major farming states from the BJP in December by promising to waive the outstanding loans of distressed farmers, sought to corner the government on a lack of jobs and weak farm prices.

The election was open but in favor of Modi’s coalition, said most poll observers. “The gap between Congress and the BJP is still enormous, so no one is seriously thinking that Congress is going to fill that gap. The opposition landscape remains heavily fragmented.”

The alliance led by Modi’s BJP is poised to win a narrow majority of 273 of the 543 seats at stake, an average of four opinion polls showed.

In the 2014 general election, the party won a landslide 282 seats, securing a clear majority for the first time in decades and raising hopes of economic reform after a period of sluggish growth.

In the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, which sends more lawmakers to parliament than any other, Amit Kumar, who runs a auto rikshaw, said he voted for the BJP in 2014, when Hindu-Muslims riots in the area killed at least 65 people, and would do so again.

“But jobs are a problem here,” he said, echoing government and private statistics here that show Modi’s government has failed to create enough jobs for the burgeoning workforce in a population of 1.3 billion.

More than 142 million Indians are eligible to vote in the first phase, of a total of 898.9 million. Votes in the seven rounds, spread over 39 days, will be counted on May 23.

From sugar farmers in northern India going unpaid for produce, to small businesses in the south shut because they are unable to meet the requirements of a new, unifying national tax, discontent over the economy has brewed for months.

Congress, which won only 44 seats last time around, is betting a promise of monthly handouts of Rs 6,000 for the poorest families will boost its performance now.

It hopes to win enough seats to lure regional parties opposed to Modi to back it after the election and form the government.

India begins de-registeration of Jet Airways planes

The crisis ridden airline of India – Jet Airways – could not manage its survival. It could neither pay off its dues to its lenders nor it could pay the lease to its lessors. Against such a backdrop, even a miracle can’t help Jet Airways.

India’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has processed the deregistration of seven Boeing 737-800s, while it has received requests to deregister 13 more aircraft.

The deregistered aircraft correspond to two 737s managed by Avolon and five from MC Aviation Partners for which requests were made last week.

Nitin Sarin, managing partner at Indian law firm Sarin & Co, tells FlightGlobal that although the deregistration has been processed, there are still a number of steps involved before lessors can export their aircraft.

“The government agencies/airport operators are to send in their dues within a stipulated period of time, after which the lessor is to pay, on payment the DGCA shall give its permission to export and thereafter the lessor may export. These stages after deregistration are still pending,” he says.

Requests to deregister a further 11 737-800s and two -700s were lodged on 9 April by lessors Avolon, Aviation Capital Group and BBAM.

Earlier this week, Aergo Capital lodged requests to deregister seven ATR 72-500s operated by Jet Airways, and further requests appear likely.

Learning Spanish in Antigua Guatemala – Martsam Travel

Learning Spanish in Antigua Guatemala

Antigua, Guatemala is broadly regarded as probably the most stunning holiday destinations on the planet, no Guatemala vacation could be complete with no visiting this colonial town. Ideally located at the highlands of the country, Antigua date ranges from the 1500s, and it has managed to preserve most of its Baroque charm within the cobblestone avenues, buildings, plazas, and water fountains.

Before a massive earthquake in the 1700s, Antigua was the capital city of Guatemala. Once the capital was transferred to Guatemala City, Antigua was able to restore and preserve a lot of its previous elegance. Constructed on the grid system, it’s an easy town to get around utilizing a map.

Learning Spanish in Antigua Guatemala

The Parque Central and the Cathedral of San José are two of the favorite locations for tourists and natives as well.

Antigua charms visitors with its colorful structures and blends of Spanish and Mayan culture, and it has been declared as a Cultural UNESCO World Heritage site. Encompassed by three volcanoes, Agua, Acatenango, and Fuego, the scenery from Antigua are globe well-known.

Currently, Antigua is among the preferred holiday destinations for travelers aiming to study Spanish in an immersion-type setting. The town is sufficiently small to be conveniently traversed by walking, and also the elegance and charm of the colonial structures combined with the spectacular natural views and vibrant Mayan culture turn it into a favorite Guatemala travel destination.

Because of the increase of travelers, Antigua features an exceptional quantity of Spanish language schools supplying all types of language class possible. Traditional day schools with lodging as part of the cost are popular, but there are other revolutionary possibilities for students searching for a more genuine language experience.

Antigua Guatemala

Immersion Spanish language schools with a volunteer plan are becoming a lot more preferred with vacationers. Packages work from short, one week plans to extended ones that may run to 30 days or longer. Volunteers frequently work in clinics, schools, assisting with building projects, and much more. The advantages of mixing language courses with volunteer work are numerous.

Volunteers usually work with people that only speak Spanish, pushing students to utilize their recently obtained vocabulary skills. Simultaneously, volunteers are visiting a side of the country which a conventional Guatemala tour probably won’t show them. Finally, volunteers generally execute essential tasks that enhance the life of the residents they meet.

There are lots of Guatemala tours which include Antigua as a featured destination, and many provide possibilities to enroll in Spanish programs at one of the many renowned languages schools in the city. Whether you select a conventional method school, one that donates a percentage of tuition to a charitable organization, or even a work-study alternative, there is no more lovely place in the world to learn Spanish and submerge yourself in such a rich cultural tradition.

La Merced Church

Aviation world faces moment of reckoning after 737 MAX crashes

“Every time something happens … we learn from it,” a senior Boeing official told reporters, reflecting on lessons from the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines crashes, less than five months apart, that had killed nearly 350 people. “There are one-off occurrences that happen — accidents like we’ve just experienced.”
In the week-plus since that announcement, it has become increasingly clear that the two accidents were not unfortunate “one-off occurrences,” the software change Boeing touted would not be enough, and the industry is facing a serious test of its mettle. The challenges of crafting deeper, more expensive fixes, addressing structural deficiencies in the certification process, and reassuring shaken fliers around the world have become more apparent.
Boeing has said that its software change needs additional weeks of work, and has seemed to accept some responsibility for designing a system in need of improvement.
Fueled in part by damning preliminary reports that show how starkly similar the two crashes were, the moment of reckoning is challenging corporations, regulators, and investigators to take a critical look at the design and inspection of aircraft, and question whether decisions and long-standing methods — employed for practical reasons — put the flying public at risk.
“It’s our responsibility to eliminate this risk,” Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg said on Thursday. “We own it and we know how to do it.”
His comments in a Boeing video followed the Ethiopian government’s preliminary report describing the pilots of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 struggling on the morning of March 10 to control their 737 MAX 8 during the six-minute ill-fated flight. According to Ethiopian crash investigators, the pilots correctly followed procedures publicized after the Lion Air accident in October to disable a faulty computerized stabilization system that Boeing created to prevent planes from crashing, but the plane’s speed and the clock worked against their efforts.
Peter Goelz, a former managing director of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and a CNN aviation analyst, said he sees evidence Boeing is now no longer primarily focused on returning the MAX to the skies, but is working on regaining public trust in its latest, most fuel-efficient version of the workhorse jet that airlines had been lining up to buy.
“I think clearly it has got through to Boeing,” Goelz said.
The Ethiopian report contained two recommendations: First, that Boeing develop a remedy, and second, a call that regulators scrutinize the fix “before the release of the aircraft to operations.”
Questions of trust lay with the Federal Aviation Administration, which has faced concerns from lawmakers of excessive coziness with Boeing. Due to the company’s broad aerospace portfolio, the federal government is both the regulator of Boeing and hires it for sensitive military contracts and complicated space operations. The world’s most famous aircraft, Air Force One, is, after all, a Boeing jet.
The FAA, created with the dual mission of regulating and promoting the aviation industry, has defended its decision to keep the 737 MAX flying while other aviation authorities around the world ordered it grounded. Acting Administrator Daniel Elwell bristled when members of Congress asked him why other countries had acted sooner by proactively pulling it from service. Elwell defended the US and Canadian authorities as awaiting evidence, calling them “the first countries to ground the aircraft with data.”
The FAA’s decisions have “shaken” confidence in the FAA, the “gold standard for aviation safety,” said Transportation Department Inspector General Calvin Scovel.
While Ethiopian and Indonesian investigators continue to probe the circumstances of those crashes, multiple investigations in the United States are casting a wide net.
A long-standing practice that has allowed both plane- and part-makers to certify their own work as meeting airworthiness standards is coming under scrutiny.
House Transportation Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio said he has “many serious questions surrounding the Boeing 737 MAX and the FAA’s certification process.” He said the inspector general has opened a probe, and a special DOT advisory committee will review “the procedures … for the certification of new aircraft.” Prosecutors with the Justice Department have subpoenaed documents, including from former Boeing employees. The FAA has formed its own international review into “the 737 MAX automated flight control system.”
For all the reviews, some are wondering what will change.
When the public’s attention moves on, the FAA will still be left with a mandate to delegate some certification decisions to the manufacturers, former FAA chief of staff Michael Goldfarb told CNN.
It’s one thing, he said, for Congress to criticize the system it put into law, but another for it to fund enough FAA inspectors to oversee manufacturer decisions.
“It’s been hard for the agency (FAA) to keep pace with pay” in private industry, Goldfarb said.
The NTSB, with power to recommend safety changes but not require them, is reviewing the organizational delegation authority, Chairman Robert Sumwalt said Friday.
“We would not really be doing our job if we weren’t making sure that those aspects were being looked at,” Sumwalt said. He said the board has the power to make conclusions separate from the Ethiopian and Indonesian investigations, of which it is a part.
Goldfarb said the FAA and its worldwide counterparts would be smart to assemble for a “regulatory summit” to evaluate the 737 MAX before it returns to service. Confidence in the agency has been hurt since its delayed decision to ground the MAX, he said.
Goelz, the former NTSB leader, sees signs — in Boeing’s latest comments and the decision to put more work into the software change — that Boeing and FAA are moving in the right direction.
“I think the top priority is to make sure that this aircraft is 100% safe, secondly to make sure that the pilots who fly it have the information and the skills to fly it safely even in difficult situations,” Goelz said. “Then thirdly to convince the public — prove to the public that they’ve done everything in their power to make this safe again.”
Convincing the flying public may be the most difficult task of all. Among the defenders of the MAX were the pilots who flew them — who, in some cases, reacted to the Ethiopian report by calling for additional review of what went wrong.
“In the wake of the tragic loss of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 on Sunday, people around the world are jumping to conclusions about the Boeing 737 Max,” the Allied Pilots Association, which represents pilots of American Airlines, said on Thursday afternoon. “Federal and international authorities have just begun to look into Sunday’s accident. It is too early to determine possible causes.”
And then there’s those who sit behind the pilots.
In the weeks ahead, travelers will need to decide if they are comfortable walking onto a 737 MAX, buckling up, and taking off.

Bidding process for Jet Airways likely to begin from April 8

MUMBAI: The bidding process for stake sale in the cash-starved Jet Airways is likely to commence from Monday as the bid document is still to be given a final shape, a source said.

The SBI-led consortium of 26 lenders, which now has the management control of the full-service carrier under a debt-recast plan, last Thursday said bid for the stake sale in Jet Airways airline would be issued on April 6.

“The expression of interest (EoI) for stake sale in Jet Airways will now be issued on Monday (April 8),” said the source.

Accordingly, the last date for submission of the bids, which was April 9 earlier, is also likely to be extended by a day to April 10, he said.

SBI is the lead lender to Jet Airways, which has a debt burden of Rs 8,000 crore.

Under the debt resolution plan approved by the Jet Airways’ board on March 25, lenders have taken majority stake in the airline and are set to infuse Rs 1,500 crore funds. Besides, the carrier’s founder and promoter Naresh Goyal as well as his wife Anita Goyal quit the board. The shareholding of Goyals have come down to 25 per cent from 51 per cent earlier.

Acute financial crunch has forced the airline to ground aircraft, cancel flights and delay payment of salaries, including to pilots.

Amid uncertainty over future of Jet Airways, the consortium of SBI-led lenders last Thursday said bids for selling stake would be invited on April 6 and other options would be explored in case the stake sale efforts do not result in an “acceptable outcome”.

After taking stock of the current situation at the airline, which is currently operating less than 30 planes, the lenders said they would pursue resolution plan for the carrier in a time-bound manner under the present legal and regulatory framework.

“The lenders are cognisant that the outcome of efforts of the lenders will depend on the interest shown by the parties on sale of stake in the company,” the statement issued by lenders last week said.

“Whilst all efforts will be made for the stake sale by lenders, other options may be considered by the lenders should these efforts not result in an acceptable outcome,” it said.

IRENA: 140 Gigawatts of Solar and Wind Capacity Installed Globally in 2018

More than 140 gigawatts of solar and wind generation capacity were added globally last year as solar PV consolidated its role as the growth engine of the renewables market, new figures from the International Renewable Energy Agency show.

Among renewable technologies, wind remains second only to hydropower in its installed base, with 564 gigawatts in operation compared to solar’s 480 gigawatts, IRENA said.

But the solar market is now regularly lapping wind on the global stage, with solar installations hitting a record 94 gigawatts last year, IRENA said, in spite of a policy-induced slowdown in the critical Chinese market.

The global wind market has been flat in recent years, holding steady around 50 gigawatts of new installations in 2018.

However, growth is expected in the years ahead, and many corners of the global wind market are vibrant. Onshore wind has proven itself the lowest-cost option for new power generation in a growing number of markets around the world, including much of the central U.S., and developers are increasingly finding ways to build projects without subsidies.

The U.S. wind market is set for what is likely to be its biggest two-year growth period on record as developers race to make use of the fading federal Production Tax Credit. Meanwhile, the offshore wind market continues to gain traction in markets beyond Europe, notably in China, where nearly 2 gigawatts were added last year, IRENA’s figures show.

2019 the biggest year yet for solar

But the biggest renewables market by far these days is solar. Analysts at Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables believe the global solar market will crack the 100-gigawatt mark for the first time this year — a level the wind market has never come close to achieving.

WoodMac analysts have described a number of positive signals for the global solar market in 2019, from clarity on China’s approach to supporting the sector, to an increasingly diversified global market that’s less reliant on Chinese demand in the first place.

The fastest growth is coming from markets in global sunbelt countries across the Middle East and Mediterranean.

Costs continue to fall rapidly across the solar industry, setting the global market up for a rhythm of annual installations in the 115- to 120-gigawatt range in the early 2020s, Wood Mackenzie forecasts.

Outpacing fossil fuels

Non-renewable generation capacity has expanded by an average of 115 gigawatts per year since 2000, IRENA said.

Wind and solar’s faster growth means that renewables are eating up a larger and larger share of the global market for new power plants, going from 25 percent of new capacity brought online in 2001 to 63 percent last year, a new record.

All told, the world added 171 gigawatts of renewable energy capacity last year, 84 percent of it wind and solar.

Hydropower remains the world’s largest source of renewable power, with an installed base of 1,172 gigawatts. But the market for new hydroelectric capacity is stagnant, with just 8.5 gigawatts added globally last year, nearly all of it in China.