Trinamool Congress has Become a Family Party: Amit Shah
Addressing the press conference on the last day of West Bengal visit, the Union Home Minister slam the Trimanool Congress government and said that the Bharatiya Janata Party strongly condemned the manner in which Trinamool Congress workers attacked our National President Shri Jagat Prakash Nadda ji during his visit to West Bengal a few days ago. And personally I also strongly condemn it. Bharatiya Janata Party believes in democracy, and we also endorse the fact that everyone should have the right to raise their voice democracy. Those who are in government have the responsibility to ensure that all political parties are able to convey their point of view to the public without any fear. I believe that the attack on the National President of India’s largest political party is not just an attack on the President of the Bharatiya Janata Party, but it is an attack on the democratic system. And I want to tell the Trinamool Congress that you should not remain under any misconception that such an attack will stop the momentum of the Bharatiya Janata Party.
The Union Home Minister said that corruption is also at its peak in the state. Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi ji, sent 8 months free ration for the poor of West Bengal in the Corona period, but the entire sacks of it were disappeared, the poor remained hungry. Whose responsibility is it? Why does the High Court have to intervene in this case and order for a special audit of the CAG? Why is the Trinamool Congress government afraid of the CAG audit which has now gone to the Supreme Court against it? If it is not stolen, then they should say that they welcome the order of CAG audit. But, running away from it because corruption has happened and their loved ones have done corruption, Trinamool Congress neither has anything to say nor dare to apprehend its own.
When India became independent, at that time one-third of the country’s GDP came from West Bengal and today it has gone down drastically. This graph continued to fall during the nearly three decades of Communist rule and one decade of Trinamool Congress rule. Whose responsibility is it?
At the time of independence, West Bengal’s contribution to industrial production was 30% which has reduced to 3.5% today. I want to ask Mamta Didi and the Communist Party who is responsible for this? In 1960, West Bengal’s determination ratio in employment was previously 27%, which has come down to 4%. Who is responsible for this decline?
In 1960, the per capita income in West Bengal was 105% higher than the per capita income of Maharashtra i.e. nearly twice the per capita income of Maharashtra but today the per capita income in West Bengal is not even half of Maharashtra. In the list of per capita income of 32 states of the country in 2018-19, West Bengal was ranked 22nd .Who is responsible for this?
Continuing the attack on the Mamta government, the Union Home Minister said that Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given direct financial assistance of ₹ 95,000 crore to about 10 crore farmers in the country in the last one and a half years, but Mamta Didi has not listed the farmers of the state. I am repeatedly raising this topic because at least before the elections Mamta didi, give the money to poor farmers. About 23 lakh farmers from West Bengal have applied online for Kisan Samman Nidhi, all you have to do is certify it. You are supporting the Kisan movement but farmers in your own state are not getting the benefit of Kisan Samman Nidhi.
Shah said that the Trinamool Congress has become a family party. Instead of worrying about the 10 crore people of West Bengal, Mamta Didi dreams to make her nephew the chief minister of the state.
The Union Home Minister said many leaders from Trinamool Congress, Congress and Communist Party have taken membership of Bharatiya Janata Party. Shri. Suvendu Adhikari has also joined the Bharatiya Janata Party. I heartily welcome Shri Adhikari to the BJP. We believe that all good activists of political life who want to join the Bharatiya Janata Party to raise their voice against the injustice, all of them should come to BJP.
An Epic War involving Amazon and Reliance Shaping Up
An epic war between two of the world’s biggest business houses seems to be shaping up. It is for getting hold of the retail space in some of the world’s biggest consumer market, that is India.
In August 2019, the U.S. firm, the e-commerce online retail giant Amazon.com Inc., bought a 49 per cent stake in Kishore Biyani’s retail conglomerate Future Coupons, a promoter group entity of Future Group’s retail business, which owns 7.3 per cent of Future Retail for about Rs 15,000 million. This deal provided Amazon with a 3.58% stake in Future Retail, contractual rights like a right of first refusal, a non-compete-like pact, and to purchase more stake in Future Retail.
In August 2020, Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance decided to buy the retail and some other businesses of Future Group. The Future Group’s sale of its retail and wholesale businesses to Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) triggered a dispute.
In October 2020, circumstances became such that Amazon had to spend some time, money and valuable resources in appointing law firms to launch some legal proceedings. Amazon has served a legal notice to Future Coupons over the deal with Reliance Industries. It will initiate arbitration proceedings against the Future Group and the arbitration will be outside India, most likely before the Singapore International Arbitration Centre.
While enforcing contractual obligations, Amazon has also sent intimation notices to various parties including Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC), Future Group and its shareholders, since the contract allows for arbitration as per media reports. Amazon has presented that the Reliance-Future deal is against the interest of Future Retail’s shareholders, as none of the shareholders will get anything since Reliance has technically bought assets of Future Enterprise.
The arbitration proceedings between Amazon and Future Group in Singapore are expected to start from November 2020 and could go on till Sept-Oct 2021 at least.
Amazon has levelled accusations against the Future Group as:
not meeting contractual obligations by going ahead with the Rs 2,50,000 million deal with Reliance Retail,
the Future Group’s $3.38 billion asset sale deal with Reliance Industries breached an agreement with Amazon, under which Amazon took an indirect stake in Future Group, on several counts,
Future Group was required to seek Amazon’s permission as Amazon has the first right of refusal in the event of stake sale,
This deal also violates a non-compete clause in the 2019 agreement,
October 8, 2020. Future Retail shares fell as much as 9% as the news of Amazon sending a legal notice to Future Group spread.
The truth and validity of such accusations will, however, be determined in the court and the matter has now become subjudice. Expert observers have opined that Reliance did not buy a stake in Future Coupons. It is not even buying a stake in Future retail. It is just buying assets like logistics, warehouses, etc. The well-known powers of Reliance may not make an easy battle for Amazon’s legal teams at the court.
Amazon, the retail behemoth, seems very keen to retain its hold in the lucrative retail space. It is exploring all options to stop the Rs 2,50,000 million deal between Future Group and Reliance Retail. This is a last-ditch effort by Amazon to delay the Reliance-Future deal. Amazon seems to fear that the deal will give Reliance a much firmer foothold in online space as well as physical distribution. This will indeed be an epic war in retail space which none of the parties would like to lose.
But will the epic war end in court or will it be arbitration are the outcomes what we have to look at. However, the time factor is sure to kill the retail investors!!
TATA-Walmart deal: A real game-changer in the Indian business landscape
The latest TATA-Walmart deal. In May 2018, the global retail giant Walmart purchased a 66% stake in Flipkart for $16 billion. Till date, it has been the country’s biggest-ever deal in the retail space. But, this may be overtaken latest by January 2021 by a new ambitious deal coming up between TATAs and Walmart.
One of the biggest news that has come up in recent times is: “Walmart is considering a $25 billion investment into Tata Group’s Super App.”
The TATAs proposed super-app may be launched as a joint venture, combining the Tata Group’s entire retail product franchise and Flipkart’s offerings from Walmart.
Super Apps from Tata group can definitely provide a comprehensive solution for B2B2C. The Tatas seem to be working with advisers to bring in global tech companies, including investors, for the digital entity. Goldman Sachs may have been asked as the investment bank for this deal.
Tatas, the pioneer of the Indian tech industry, stayed inactive for a while but now the group is catching the super app fever. It may have to reset its supply chain network. Given how foreign capital has built a strong infra for online/e-commerce, this is the most promising time for super apps to mushroom.
Amazon and Reliance Jio, which is planning a similar offering with Facebook are set to have a new competitor in terms of variety and economies of scale. As the end-user, the beneficiary is the consumer, such a competition is good for the Indian digital ecosystem.
The $20-25 billion TATA-Walmart deal is surely going to make a huge impact in the industry as the TATAs, one of India’s most ethical corporate houses is vying to level the space hitherto dominated by the likes of Amazon and Reliance Jio. With Reliance & TATAs along with their foreign collaborators dominating the business space across the horizon, it will be a real game-changer in the general Indian business landscape. What will Amazon do next? And what will happen to Walmart and Flipkart?
India’s Tata Group have now felt the need to consolidate it’s ecom businesses to compete. It is still largely an untapped business opportunity in India. The TATAs are still way behind Reliance Industries Limited moves with Jio and its investments by Facebook and Google.
The TATA-Walmart deal should ruffle some feathers. So much is going on in Indian emerging markets and eCommerce news. The online space is just heating up now.
Hereinafter, it will be interesting to see how other large FMCG conglomerates will charge their game plans. Will Hindustan Unilever do something similar? HUL has been in India’s retail business for more than eight decades or so. It knows retail business here very well in every nook and corner of India and has a great network of dealers. HUL also attracts good talented people and has good financial resources.
Large investments in technology with an established corporate house. This is certainly exciting news. Such deals, in effect, inspire other Indian companies, investors, associates, creates multiple job opportunities and benefits the general public.
Such deals further endorse the fact that India is indeed one of the biggest playing fields for global e-commerce market share. Given the size of India’s consumer base, giants like Walmart can not afford to keep India out of its loop for long. Walmart must have been eager to get a globally known strong brand supporting its e-commerce business in India. There could not have been a better choice other than the Tata group as it is an established and respected player in the online space. Moreover, its competitor, Amazon, is investing aggressively in more horizontal tech investments. It is investing in Alexa for cars, Music, Esports, Videos, etc. This upcoming TATA-Walmart deal seems to be a good sign for Walmart which has to invest in other markets besides the US. The TATAs in India has given it the right opportunity at the right time.
Dubey ji Bounces Back
Dubey ji Bounces Back
by Vivek Atray (Goodreads Author)
Meek and morose is what Raghav Dubey has been all his life but when Sarla Koppikar wallops him on his head and almost kills him, Dubey ji decides to undergo a complete makeover. He shaves off his moustache, sheds his reticence in female company and even learns to play the guitar! His career graph now rockets skywards with his newfound zest and energy enabling him to work wonders at Mumbai’s Bonny Bank. The beauteous Avni Singh bowls him over and he is left utterly lovestruck. Even the very charming Paulomi Bose fails to distract him. Dubey ji’s bête noire is found dead and our hero is in deep trouble. Will he be able to bounce back again?
Vivek Atray, the Author
Vivek Atray is an Author, Advisor, Motivational Speaker, Formerly of the Indian Administrative Service, IAS and Mentor. He retired voluntarily from the IAS in 2017. He is an ex-under 19 cricketer. He speaks all over India on topics such as Emotional Intelligence, Leadership, People Skills and Behavioural Issues. He has over 20 Lakh (2 million) views on YouTube.
He is the founder of SUVICHAR Think Tank, Professor at Shoolini University, member of the CSR Advisory Board of ACTION AID and a member of the Governor’s Advisory Council for Chandigarh. He is also a founder of the Vibrant Networking Forum and the Chandigarh Literary Society, and Co-Convenor of INTACH Chandigarh.
Book Review by Naleen Chandra
“Dubey ji Bounces Back” may have taken a clue from the two most interesting eternal stories of transformation.
1. Vidyotma insulted her nincompoop husband, challenged him, terminated her marriage and left him in the lurch. Then the fool thought of doing something and eventually, with the grace of Goddess Kaali, Kalidas attained wisdom. With works like ‘Shakuntala’ and ‘Meghdoot’, the writer does not need any intro. The beauty of the writer’s expression, keeps the reader spellbound.
2. Ratnavali’s rejection had stunned and then spurred her husband. Ratnavali may have expected to guilt her husband into becoming a follower of Ram. Tulsidas eventually became a genuine Rambhakt and went on to write the epic Ramayan, which needs no intro.
In both instances, the wives were instrumental for the transformation of their husbands. Here the power of the impact a woman can have on man is to be seen, believed and experienced. Moreover, neither Tulsidas nor Kalidas followed any CBSE, IIT, or IAS. The fact of the matter is that the whole mankind religiously follows them and the so-called educational institutions include their works in their curriculum.
In “Dubey ji Bounces Back” the writer had an opportunity to highlight this particular aspect of human behaviour. I, as a reader, expected the writer with his vast admin experience to inspire today’s younger generation so that the Kalidas or Tulsidas lying suppressed within them eventually awakens.
IITs Still Struggling With Students Drop-out Problem
27 Sept 2019. The Council for Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT) chaired by Human Resource Development Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank had to come up with solutions for the number of perennial problems faced by the IIT management during the past 20 years or so. The Council, headed by the HRD Minister, is the highest decision-making body of all the 23 IITs, the country’s premier engineering institutions.
It was the 53rd meeting being held in New Delhi. The IIT Council identified such problems as shortcomings :
there are ‘academically weak students’ at the IITs who drop out from the IIT system,
IITs do not have sufficient financial or admin autonomy yet,
their ‘internationalisation’ through renewable contracts for foreign faculty and test OCI (Overseas Citizens of India) students directly for JEE Advanced is not being encouraged,
the system sees overlap and duplication of beneficiaries,
IITs do little on research. They do not identify thrust areas and do not set up national-level laboratories for the same,
the IITs do not mentor other nearby engineering colleges.
As per HRD Ministry data, nearly 2,500 undergraduate and postgraduate students dropped out from the 23 IITs across the country in the last two years. (both at the undergraduate and postgraduate level). These include cases of expulsion on account of weak academic performance. For instance, in 2019, IIT-Kanpur expelled 18 students on the grounds of poor grades, of which half were B.Tech students.
As per the latest All-India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE), a study by the HRD Ministry, the number of students who enrolled into BTech and Bachelor of Engineering (BE) courses fell by 0.05 million: from 4.25 million in 2014-15 to 3.77 million in 2018-19. More than 75 engineering and technical colleges across the country have opted for “progressive closure” in 2019. Such institutions will not take fresh admissions from this year.
The data on the steep fall in engineering admission and drop-out rates at the IITs is thus worrying the HRD ministry.
The Council, in its meeting, thus admits that there are indeed ‘weak’ students since they have to drop out while they are halfway into their studies in the IIT. As such, the said IITs have not achieved their objectives. They are still struggling with the inherent flaws in the system which were finally revealed in the solution proposed by the Council :
“Academically weak students, who are not able to secure the required credits for promotion to the next semester, maybe allowed an exit option with a degree programme after the second semester, rather than being forced out of the programme.”
How did the situation arise
It has been surveyed that most drop-outs from IITs and IIMs are from the reserved category. Nearly 48 per cent of students dropping out of the IITs and over 62.6 per cent from IIMs in the past two years are from the reserved category.
Quota system allows students with below-par merit being inducted into IITs,
Due to reservations, fundamentally weak students somehow though manage to get into the IITs, but inside they have a really tough time keeping up with the pace of studies,
Teachers are not able to cultivate and motivate,
IITs do not examine the intelligence of the students nor develop their creativity,
The credibility and reputation of the IITs get gradually eroded.
The HRD minister had brought up this issue in the Parliament in July 2019. “Dropouts in undergraduate programmes are attributed to withdrawal due to wrong choices filled, poor academic performance of students, personal and medical reasons,” he had said.
The Council assumes that this suggestion will be good for the weak student who can’t cope up with rigours of IIT study. It said that those who are unable to keep pace with the required academic standards can be allowed an ‘honourable’ exit after the second semester. Officials say that academically weak students will be able to choose BSc degree after the second semester and leave after three years, provided they have met the minimum academic standards.
However, it becomes logically wrong to label people as ‘academically weak’ if they are exiting the program early. If such students are labelled as weak, then the BSc solution will be like a loser’s option. The student may be reluctant to accept it. Moreover, the industry and the potential recruiters also may not give such students any importance. What’s the point in getting into an IIT and getting out of it as a weak student carrying a BSc paper?
Thus the so-called BSc scheme will not be of any use. Being professional, the IITs should not have kid gloves for weak students. It will be prudent if reservation policy is given a rethink and only students with merit are offered seats. The aspirant should be good enough for IITs and avoid getting inside IITs through the reservations route because it defeats the purpose of social justice. If such selected students turn out to be weak, then there is an equal possibility that some students who did not get selected may have been bright after all.
An estimated 0.9 million students take JEE (main) that’s held twice a year. Out of these, about 13,500 get an IIT seat. Since students get into the IITs after clearing a cut-throat competition, they are presumably quality students but are not able to cope up with the academic requirements at times. It was felt they should be given an exit option rather than the entire effort going waste.
The proposal reveals that the HRD ministry does not wish to consider improving the entrance test and admission process that matches the IIT education standards so that the right candidates are selected rather than selecting candidates and later giving degree discounts to weak students.
The Council could not provide any solution to other students who could have continued but failed due to admission of less suitable candidates through the quota system. The Council did not recommend any reforms for the process of JEE selection which urgently needs some tinkering. Let there be a uniform policy for all IITs if the brand has to be saved.
Autonomy on the lines of the IIMs under the new IIM Act still eludes the IITs. The recent Council meeting also proposed a new model of financial autonomy for the IITs in consultation with the NITI Aayog. The institutes will charge tuition fees based on actual costs (nearly Rs 0.07 million a year) from the students. Currently, IIT students pay only Rs 0.02 million per annum as tuition fee. Moreover, almost half of the BTech students at IITs under the SC/ST category are exempt from paying any tuition fee. The institutes bear the difference between actual cost and income through their internal accruals and block grants received from the government.
The government, while following socialism principles, will provide financial help directly to the students through scholarships or “in any other manner as it deems fit”. Formulae like direct fee reimbursement to students through DBT instead of subsidising them are under discussion. The IITs will not receive the block grants from the government. They will be free from government restrictions on using their financial resources.
The Council will also consider empowering the Board of Governors of an IIT to pick its members and chairperson. Currently, the HRD Ministry appoints them. IIT directors, according to the agenda, will continue to be selected by the government. However, apart from the IIT Council’s approval, the IIT Act will also have to be amended to finally empower the IITs.
The council has indicated that it was open to all templates on greater financial and administrative autonomy for IITs. The institutes should be affordable for students from all sections of society. Each IIT must review the ‘Merit-cum-Means’ scheme to ensure that there was no overlap and duplication of beneficiaries. The council also called upon the IITs to concentrate on research. Each IIT should identify 4-5 thrust areas and set up national-level labs. Each IIT should mentor 10 engineering colleges in its vicinity. To ‘internationalise’ the IITs, the council felt it was necessary to recruit foreign faculty on renewable contracts rather than the current five-year tenure.
Royal Brunei Airlines back on Brisbane route – Australian Aviation
A file image of Royal Brunei Airlines Airbus A320neo V8-RBD, which features a special Visit Brunei livery. (Masakatsu Ukon/Wikimedia Commons)
Royal Brunei Airlines (RBA) has resumed nonstop flights to Brisbane for the first time since 2011 with the arrival of BI9 early on Thursday morning, July 11 2019.
Flight BI9, operated by Airbus A320neo V8-RBD featuring a special Visit Brunei livery, landed at about 0330 local time on Thursday, following its six and a half hour journey from RBA’s Bandar Seri Begawan hub.
The aircraft was on the ground at Brisbane Airport for about 13 hours before taking off as the reciprocal BI10 a little after 1600 local time.
RBA chief executive Karam Chand said the airline was delighted to be back in Brisbane after an eight-year absence.
Further, Chand said the new Brisbane service would strategically position the airline as a key player on the Kangaroo route between Australia and the united Kingdom.
“We are delighted to offer our Bruneian, UK and other guests from our expanding route network an additional Australia travel destination where they will find many and attractions and activities of offer in Brisbane city and its surrounds,” Chand said in a statement.
In addition to Brisbane, RBA flies nonstop to Melbourne daily with Boeing 787-8s.
Both its Australian routes were expected to support RBA’s nonstop Bandar Seri Begawan-London services.
A file image of a Boeing 787-8 in Royal Brunei Airlines livery. (Wikimedia Commons/Jahurz)
The Brisbane route will will operate as an overnight flight from from Bandar Seri Begawan on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. Meanwhile, the return service takes off from Brisbane in the late afternoon on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.
The schedule, which is similar to RBA’s Melbourne service, has been optimised for convenient connections on the London route.
CAPA – Centre for Aviation chief analyst Brendan Sobie said while the new RBA service represented less than two per cent of total capacity between Brisbane and Asia, it was strategically important as the flights would stimulate demand in the Brisbane-Brunei and Brisbane-Uk markets.
“Brunei is a tiny source market for Queensland and there is also limited outbound demand in the Brisbane-Brunei market. However, these segments will grow (from a very low base) as nonstop services are resumed,” Sobie said in a research note from February.
“Of more significance is the impact the new Brunei service will have in the Brisbane-UK market. The UK is the fourth largest source market for Queensland and London is also a very popular destination for Brisbane area residents.”
“However, making the Brisbane-Bandar Seri Begawan route work will not be easy because Brisbane-London – which Royal Brunei will need to rely on for a large proportion of its Brisbane passengers – is a very competitive and low yielding market.”
Sobie noted return fares of less than US$1,000 were available on many carriers for Brisbane-London itineraries, while RBA had some sub-US$800 fares in the market for travel during the second half of calendar 2019.
“With the offer of such low fares it will be hard for the new Brisbane-Brunei route to deliver sustained profitability – even with incentives from Brisbane Airport and Queensland,” Sobie said.
At the time the Brisbane flight was launched, RBA has targeted a start date of June 11. However, aircraft availability issues due to engine maintenance requirements on its Boeing 787 fleet forced the flight to be pushed back a month.
RBA has seven A320neos powered by CFM LEAP-1A engines. The airline has configured the next-generation narrowbody to carry 150 passengers, with 12 seats in business class and 138 seats in economy.
Airbus lists the A320neo as having a range of 3,400nm in a typical two-class configuration of 165 seats. Bandar Seri Begawan-Melbourne is 2,940nm.
RBA was the first to fly the A320neo to Australia when it used the aircraft temporarily on the Bandar Seri Begawan-Melbourne route in August 2018 while its Boeing 787-8s were unavailable due to engine inspection requirements.
To celebrate the new route, the airline planned to host an event at the Brisbane City Hall on Thursday evening.
The airline recently began flying nonstop between Bandar Seri Begawan and London Heathrow, having previously served the United Kingdom capital with a one-stop routing via Dubai.
Brisbane may also prove a source market for RBA’s new regional services with ATR 72-600s due to kick off in October. The turboprops on lease from Malaysia-based Malindo Air will be used to serve seven destinations on Borneo – six in the Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak and one on the Indonesian part of the island.
RBA Airbus A320neo V8-RBA at Melbourne on August 1 2018. (Brian Wilkes)