Indian Envoys Face Protests At Melbourne Gurudwara

first_imgThe Indian High Commissioner to Australia, Ajay Gondane, was recently prevented from entering the Tarneit Gurudwara Sahib in Melbourne by a group of protesters. Gondane, who was on an official trip to Melbourne, had made the visit as he was keen to visit religious places in the area.The diplomat was, however, stopped from entering the gurudwara on Nov. 18, SBS Punjabi reported. The protesters argued with Gondane for a long time at the entrance. After he was subjected to several minutes of protests and slogans that asked to “free Jaggi”, he was let inside the gurudwara to pay obeisance. He left after taking his prasad. The area has a dense population of the Indian diaspora.“This is an extremely unfortunate incident,” Gunwant Kaur, the secretary of the gurudwara management committee, was quoted by the publication. She added that there was a group of around 25-30 protesters, who started arriving at the gurudwara from 7.15 am onwards. “They were very loud and aggressive, and had surrounded Indian Consul General Manika Jain, who had arrived earlier,” she said. “They created quite a scene and crossed all limits. They were extremely disruptive and were trying to intimidate the Gurudwara committee members as well.”Kaur added: “There are much better ways to protest. This is certainly not the way. These people didn’t behave like Sikhs are meant to, and have brought a bad name to the entire community.”A video of the incident has been doing the rounds on social media, in which Gondane is seen trying to reason with them. In the video, protesters can be seen telling Gondane that he could enter the premises as a devotee but “not as a representative of the Indian government.”A protester can be clearly heard in the video saying that no Indian official would be allowed to enter any gurudwara in Australia.“ We were protesting the arrest of 47 Sikh youths in Punjab in recent times, the latest example being the arrest of Jagtar Singh Johal who was in India for his own wedding,” Harkirat Singh Ajnoha, one of the protesters seen in the video, told SBS Punjabi. “We want to raise awareness about the human rights violations in Punjab and recognition of the Sikh genocide. Although everyone is welcome at any Gurudwara, but we won’t let officials use their visit to influence our youngsters from our stages.”The reference to Jaggi pertains to Jagtar Singh Johal, a British Sikh who is in Punjab Police’s custody. While the police say Johal is allegedly linked to killings of Hindu leaders in the state, there has been uproar at many places among the community over alleged torture he has faced while in custody.Gondane told the publication that his purpose is to foster a sense of community and brotherhood. “There is no question of ‘us’ and ‘them’. It’s all about ‘we’. We are all together as one community,” he said. “If anyone has any grievance, they can bring it to me and I’ll be happy to look into these.” Related ItemsAustraliaMelbourneSikhslast_img read more

Chabahar Port Opens, Connects India to Afghanistan via Iran

first_imgThe Chabahar port in Iran, which gives India access to central Asia bypassing Pakistan’s Gwadar Port, which is being built by China, was inaugurated on Dec. 3. The inauguration of the Phase I of Shahid Beheshti Port at Chabahar, done by Iran’s President Dr. Hassan Rouhani, was also attended by Indian Minister of State (MoS) Shipping Pon Radhakrishnan and Minister of Commerce and Industries of Afghanistan Humayoon Rasaw.The port is being made with an investment of $1 billion, of which India has so far invested $235 million. The port’s capacity has been tripled to 8.5 million tons a year, Reuters quoted state television as saying. India’s commitment for the port is $500 million.“The routes of the region should be connected on land, sea and air,” Rouhani said at the inauguration ceremony, according to an office statement.The ministers at the inauguration also commended the shipment of the first cargo through Chabahar, from India to Afghanistan, which comprised 110,000 tons of wheat. The cargo was sent from Kandla port in Gujarat in October this year.A statement from the Indian Ministry of External Affairs said: “The Ministers agreed to further intensify efforts on issues concerning regional connectivity and focusing on Chabahar Port development under the Trilateral Transit and Trade Agreement at the Trilateral Meeting. MoS (Shipping) expressed his positive appreciation to the Iranian side on the recent steps taken towards ratification by the Majlis of Iran on the Trilateral Transit and Trade Agreement signed in May 2016 between India, Iran and Afghanistan.”China, which through its One Road One Belt project is connecting East Asia with Central Asia, had indicated that India too needs to join the project. However, India has created an alternative for itself by developing the Chabahar Port. The Iranian port is only about 80 km from Pakistan’s Gwadar port.The inauguration comes at a time when Pakistan is blocking access between India and Afghanistan.In November, Minister of State for External Affairs MJ Akbar said, “India has always conveyed its readiness to receive export laden Afghan trucks at its Integrated Check Point at Attari on the India-Pakistan border. However, Pakistan has regrettably chosen to block normal access between India and Afghanistan.” Akbar was speaking at the 7th Meeting of Regional Economic Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan (RECCA), which was formed to promote peace in Afghanistan.“In effect, Pakistan has emerged as the largest wall in history, inhibiting connectivity between India and Afghanistan. This blockade is a crime against the people of Afghanistan; for it is their welfare which is affected the most,” the Indian politician added.The Chabahar Port project was ratified in 2016 when Prime Minister Narendra Modi went to Iran, the first visit by an Indian PM since 2012. Related ItemsChabaharIndiaIranlast_img read more

Air India May Be Broken Into 4 Companies Before Sale: Report

first_imgThe government is planning to split Air India into four separate companies and sell at least 51 per cent in each of them as part of its disinvestment plan. The plan to disinvest the national carrier also caused an uproar in a parliamentary meeting on Jan.15, with some Opposition leaders staging a walk-out.The core airline business, which is Air India and its overseas arm Air India Express, will be offered as one company, Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha said, Bloomberg reported. The process will be completed by the end of 2018, he added. Air India’s regional arm (Alliance Air), ground handling (AIATSL and JV company AISATS), and engineering operations (AIESL) will sold separately in the same process.“The aviation sector is a very fast growing sector, with really exciting opportunities for all participants, so we felt all of this will unlock growth and competitiveness of Air India group,” Sinha said. “We expect it to be a very bright future for its employees.”While Sinha did not name the potential bidders, he said the management control will be retained by local investors. By altering the foreign investment rules last week, the government, in effect, allowed foreign airlines to own as much as 49 per cent of Air India. Sinha said that investors’ interest will be sought by the end of this month.The government will take on the non-core debt of the carrier to put on its own balance sheet while debt linked to its core operations will be put on the unit on offer. Air India, which carries debt of about $7.9 billion, is currently living on a government bailout. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said last year that the money spent on Air India could be used for education.Air India, with its five subsidiaries and a joint venture, has been unprofitable since its 2007 merger with state-owned domestic operator Indian Airlines Ltd. Due to the slide in oil prices, the company made an operating profit of about Rs 1 billion in the year through March 2016, but still had a net loss of Rs 38.4 billion.Among those reported to have shown interest in acquiring Air India’s operations are IndiGo, run by InterGlobe Aviation Ltd, and the Tata group. Turkey’s Celebi Aviation Holding, Bird Group, Menzies Aviation Plc and Livewel Aviation Services Pvt. Ltd. are also said to have expressed keenness in the national carrier’s subsidiaries.Meanwhile, the government’s plan of Air India’s disinvestment itself brought on a heated debate in a meeting of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture, with members of the ruling party BJP and the Opposition engaging in a war of words on Jan. 15. During the meeting, the BJP and its allies rejected the recommendation in the draft report that the government should defer its plan to disinvest its stake in Air India by five years.BJP MP Rakesh Singh, who was acting as the chair for the meeting in absence of TMC leader Derek O’Brien, announced that 16 members (BJP and allies) of the 31 had signed in favor of disinvestment. When he said the panel will withdraw the draft report opposing the disinvestment, three opposition members — Kumari Selja (Congress), Arpita Ghosh (Trinamool Congress) and independent politician Ritabrata Banerjee — walked out of the meeting saying that only the full time chair (O’Brien) has the power to withdraw the report, PTI reported. Related ItemsAir IndiaAviationlast_img read more

India Ranked 30th on Global Manufacturing Index in World Economic Forum Report

first_imgAhead of its annual meeting in Davos, Geneva-based World Economic Forum has put India at 30th position on the global manufacturing index. With the best structure of production, Japan topped the list, followed by South Korea, Germany, Switzerland, China, Czech Republic, the United States, Sweden, Austria and Ireland. These countries made the top 10 in the list, titled ‘Readiness for the Future of Production Report’ that was released on Jan. 12.While China outranked India by a large margin at 5th place, India is above the rest of its BRICS peers — Brazil took the 41st place, while Russia was ranked 35th and South Africa at the 45th spot.The report analyses development of modern industrial strategies and urges collaborative action. It categorized 100 countries into four groups — Leading (strong current base, high level of readiness for future); High Potential (limited current base, high potential for future); Legacy (strong current base, at risk for future); or Nascent (limited current base, low level of readiness for future).India is in the ‘Legacy’ group, along with Hungary, Mexico, Philippines, Russia, Thailand and Turkey. China is among the ‘Leading’ countries, while Brazil and South Africa are in ‘Nascent’ group.India is the 5th-largest manufacturer in the world, with a total manufacturing value of over $420 billion in 2016, the WEF said, adding that the country’s manufacturing sector has grown by over 7 per cent per year on average in the past three decades and accounts for 16-20 per cent of India’s GDP.“Home to the second-largest population in the world and one of the fastest growing economies, the demand for Indian manufactured products is rising. India has room for improvement across the drivers of production, except for demand environment where it ranks in the top 5,” the report said.Saying that the country needs to continue to raise the capabilities of its relatively young and fast-growing labor force, the report listed human capital and sustainable resources as the two key challenges for India. According to WEF, it entails upgrading education curricula, revamping vocational training programs and improving digital skills.The WEF noted the government’s ‘Make in India’ initiative and its “significant push” to improve key enablers and move towards a more connected economy with announcement of a $59 billion investment in infrastructure in 2017.India has been ranked 9th in terms of scale of production, 48th for its complexity and 3rd for its market size. The areas where the country is ranked poorly (90th or even lower) include female participation in labor force, trade tariffs, regulatory efficiency and sustainable resources. Related ItemsEconomyWEFlast_img read more

China’s Passport Strength Improves to Leave India Far Behind

first_imgIndia is placed at the 86th position in a global ranking of passport strength, alongside countries like Cambodia and Central African Republic. The top spot has been secured by Germany for the fifth consecutive year, according to the 2018 Henley Passport Index conducted by Henley and Partners.Indians can travel to 49 countries without a visa or get visa on arrival, which is the same as last year. German citizens, on the other hand, enjoy visa-free access to 177 countries in total, up from 176 countries in 2017.“Singapore ranks second globally on the 2018 edition of the index, with visa-free access to 176 countries,” said the index report released on Jan. 9. China has been placed at the 75th spot, with its passport holders having visa-free access to 60 countries. The Asian economic power is up by 10 points and has been featured among the biggest climbers on the 2018 index.Other biggest climbers on the index include Georgia, which is up by 15 points and ranks 53, with visa-free access to 99 countries, while Ukraine is up by 14 points and ranks 44. The United States has been ranked fifth on the index, with its citizens getting visa-free access to 173 countries, sharing its position with Ireland, Portugal, and South Korea.Eight countries — Denmark, Finland, France, Italy, Japan, Norway, Sweden, and the United Kingdom — share the third spot. Passport-holders of these countries can visit 175 countries without visa or visa on arrival.Since the world economy has become increasingly globalized, the need for greater visa-free access has grown steadily. “Across the economic spectrum, individuals want to transcend the constraints imposed on them by their country of origin and access business, financial, career, and lifestyle opportunities on a global scale,” the report said.At the bottom of the index are Somalia, Pakistan, Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.“Across the economic spectrum, individuals want to transcend the constraints imposed on them by their country of origin and access business, financial, career, and lifestyle opportunities on a global scale. The Henley Passport Index shows individuals where they lie on the spectrum of global mobility, revealing the strength that their passport has in relation to other passports,” said Dr. Christian H. Kalin, group chairman of Henley & Partners. Related ItemsChinapassportVisalast_img read more

Indian Minister Lauds Pro-India Groups After Clashes with Protesters in London

first_imgIndian Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju has praised the pro-India groups that protested against the Kashmiri separatist activists in London on Jan. 26.“Salute to the Indian patriots in London,” Rijiju tweeted. “The miniscule fringe elements can’t dent the spirit of India. We are all one from Arunachal Pradesh to Jammu & Kashmir, Nagaland to Rann of Kutch, Kanyakumari to Punjab.”Another Indian politician, Uttar Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Dinesh Sharma, who was in London to attend the Education World Forum earlier this week, dismissed the protesters as “fringe elements” keen to foment trouble.Groups pro and anti-India clashed outside the Indian High Commission in London on India’s Republic Day. British politician Lord Nazir Ahmed had launched a protest against India’s “occupation” of Kashmir while pro-Indian groups protested against him.The anti-India groups demanded freedom for Kashmir and Khalistan. Ahmed used five billboard vans to campaign around London, which the Indian High Commission raised objections against with the United Kingdom government. However, the billboard vans are privately owned and not under state control.Ahmed, who was born in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and raised in South Yorkshire, is a controversial figure in British politics. The member of the British House of Lords was suspended from the Labour Party in 2012 for his divisive comments. He later resigned from the party and is currently not affiliated with any party. He was also charged for dangerous driving and is believed to be sympathetic towards radical Islamists.Before the ‘Black Day’ protests on Jan. 26, 2018, Ahmed had said, “It will be a peaceful demonstration by a small gathering because we cannot have very large numbers outside the High Commission,” according to News18. However, the protests turned violent when members from both groups gathered there.The supporters of India had organized a ‘Chalo India House’ demonstration in London to “celebrate India’s Republic Day by opposing anti-India lobbyists.”A protester at the event was quoted by the Times of India as saying, “I am here today to tell Lord Nazir that they are asking for independence for my state of J&K but I want freedom from Pakistan sponsored terrorism, ceasefire violations and their proxy war.” Related ItemsBritainLondonUnited Kingdomlast_img read more

U.S. Lawmaker Introduces Bill to Stop Bangladeshi Professor’s Deportation

first_imgA Bangladeshi-origin chemistry teacher, Syed Ahmed Jamal, who was almost deported from the United States, has received major support from lawmakers and the community amid a tense climate around the issue of immigration in the country. Jamal was detained by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents on Jan. 24 from his home in Kansas.Republican lawmaker Lynn Jenkins of Kansas introduced on Feb. 14 H.R. 5010, titled “For the relief of Syed Ahmed Jamal and Zaynaub Jahan Chowdhury,” a private member bill in Congress that has the potential to provide the couple with permanent residentship in the country. Their children are already U.S. citizens.Jamal was deboarded from a plane that was taking him to Bangladesh and has been kept in a detention center in Missouri. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Missouri, met Jamal when he was detained in El Paso, Texas, after being flooded with calls expressing concern over the fate of the Bangladeshi immigrant, a statement by the lawmaker said. The Facebook page of law firm Sharma-Crawford’s shows a photo of Jamal speaking to Cleaver while he was incarcerated.“He has a valid work authorization till October 2018, has been here with no criminal history whatsoever, and there’s no reason to hold him,” the law firm said. “We have confirmed that Syed Jamal is back in KC (Kansas City, Missouri), and being detained at the Platte County Jail.”On Feb. 12, a stay was ordered for his deportation. Meanwhile, there are campaigns on and GoFundMe to help Jamal from being deported.Jamal came to the United States around 30 years ago on a student visa. Later, he switched to an H-1B visa and when he enrolled for a Ph.D. he switched back to a student visa. When he was arrested in January 2018, he had work authorization and was teaching chemistry as an adjunct professor at Park University in Kansas City, the Washington Post reported.Immigration in the United States has become a major point of contention, with the administration looking to rid the country of immigrants through their proposed plan against family immigration and end of the diversity visa. The U.S. Senate rejected all four immigration bill proposals this week, leaving the “Dreamers” or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) beneficiaries in a limbo.The DACA beneficiaries are people who came to the United States illegally as children below the age of 16. With the deferment in their deportation, they can study or get a job permit. The U.S. government is unwilling to continue the extension of the program beyond March even if the Congress doesn’t make a decision on it. Around 3,000-5,500 Indians are estimated to get affected by this. The administration is also trying to end the H4 work authorization for spouses of those on H-1B visa in the United States, which will affect many Indian families. Related ItemsBangladeshDACAUnited Stateslast_img read more

H-1B Visa Application Filing Season to Begin on April 2

first_imgFiling for H-1B visa applications for the fiscal year 2019 will begin on April 2, 2018, the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (USCIS) announced recently. The USCIS said that it would be scrutinizing details of employment if the beneficiary will be employed on a third-party worksite.“This policy memorandum makes clear that employers must provide contracts and itineraries for employees who will work at a third-party location,” the USCIS said.On April 2, Monday, the procedure is set to begin and the USCIS has confirmed that it is not a federal holiday and that they will be accepting applications for the first five days. Applications can be filed at most six months in advance. Applications without a specific start date will be rejected. Words like ASAP or subject to approval will be rejected, USCIS warned petitioners.In a previous statement, USCIS had said, “While an H-1B petition may be approved for up to three years, USCIS will, in its discretion, generally limit the approval period to the length of time demonstrated that the beneficiary will be placed in non-speculative work and during which the petitioner will maintain the requisite employer-employee relationship.”The government agency has said that the change in policy to limit the time spent by H-1B visa workers is in line with the ‘Buy American and Hire American’ executive order by U.S. President Donald Trump.A lottery will be held for the H-1B visa seekers and only through the lottery will they be able to secure a visa. The USCIS will grant 65,000 new H-1B visas for jobs in the science, engineering and information technology fields, which is part of the regular cap. In the Masters cap, 20,000 new H-1B visas for employees with advanced degrees from U.S. universities will be given.Every H-1B visa worker gets a visa for three years, which can be renewed for up to six years. “Employment-based petitioners who circumvent the worker protections outlined in the nation’s immigration laws not only injure U.S. workers (e.g., their wages and job opportunities), but also the foreign workers for whom they are petitioning,” the USCIS had said in a petition. Related ItemsH-1B visaUnited Stateslast_img read more

Designed By UK Firm, Andhra CM’s Amaravati Office to Come Up on 46th Floor of Tower with Helipad

first_imgThe location of Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu’s office was finally revealed on March 24 by Municipal Administration Minister P Narayana to the Andhra Pradesh Assembly. The office of the chief minister will be on the 46th floor of a mega riverfront tower, designed by UK-based architecture firm Foster + Partners, with a bird’s eye view of the capital city, Amaravati.The office would lead to a helipad atop the tower. The idea behind the design is that VIPs and foreign dignitaries can enter the chief minister’s office directly through the helipad. This tower will be the tallest among the five towers making up the administrative core of the capital. The other four towers will be of 40 floors each. The models of these towers, designed by architect Sir Norman Foster’s firm, were shown in the state Assembly after the announcement for the lawmakers to see.The administrative enclave, along with the Assembly and High Court buildings, will be the central focus of the capital city. The Assembly building will take up 8.5 lakh sq.ft area while the High Court will be set up in 2 lakh sq.ft area. The capital will have nine cities, of which the High Court will make “Justice City.”Announcing the decision, Narayana said: “We have chosen a spike design structure for the legislature complex with a rich elegance, reflecting the high aspirations of the people. The high court building design is inspired by the Buddhist Stupa architecture, while the secretariat towers will have a smart design with a focus on accessibility.”The 27 townships, built on 1,000 acre each, will be home to a gross population of 27 lakh. Two ring roads will be developed – a 186 km long Outer Ring Road and 97.5 km long Inner Ring Road, Narayana said. Over 30 per cent of the overall area in Amaravati would be kept for parks, he added.A road network of 1,600 km,  five bridges and five reservoirs are also being planned. The development of the reservoirs aims at preventing floods in the Kondaveetivagu and Palavagu areas.Foster + Partners have submitted the final designs of the structures and the tender process for construction of buildings will be started by the end of April, Narayana said.Andhra Pradesh has submitted a detailed project report for requiring Rs 11,600 crore as part of capital development. The Central government has released Rs 1,500 crore, the Hindu reported. However, these plans are being looked at with skepticism by the Opposition. “The government could not finalize designs for the capital buildings in the last four years. When will the capital be actually built?,” the Indian Express reported quoted a BJP lawmaker as saying. Related ItemsAmaravatiAndhra PradeshArchitecturelast_img read more

Pakistanis are ‘Dangerous,’ Indians ‘Disciplined,’ Says Dubai Security Official

first_imgA top security official in Dubai has kicked off a controversy following a series of tweets on April 1, in which he said that Pakistanis are a “dangerous” threat to the societies of Gulf while Indians are “disciplined.”While the comments, posted by Dhahi Khalfan, the Lieutenant General and Head of General Security in Dubai, were extensively reported in India, Pakistanis were furious at the attack. Khalfan also criticized Bangladeshis in his tweets.Khalfan tweeted the remarks after a gang of Pakistanis was caught for smuggling drugs. The posts were in Arabic and published from his verified handle @Dhahi_ Khalfan. He said: “Pakistanis pose a serious threat to the Gulf societies because they bring drugs to (our) countries.”يشكل الباكستانيون تهديدا خطيرا للمجتمعات الخليجية لما يجلبوه من مخدرات معهم إلى دولنا..يجب التشديد عليهم بإجراءات صارمة في المنافذ…— ضاحي خلفان تميم (@Dhahi_Khalfan) April 1, 2018He also posted a picture of three alleged Pakistani smugglers standing before a drug haul. Khalfan tweeted to his 2.66 million followers that it was a “national necessity” to “stop the recruitment of Pakistani labor.”He also tweeted saying: “Why are Indians disciplined while sedition, criminality and smuggling in the Pakistani community are rampant?”Khalfan further suggested that Pakistanis should be subjected to increased inspection, similar to what Bangladeshis face, “because of the criminal tendencies.”He added: “We became strict with the Bengalis because of the criminal tendencies they have shown. Pakistanis must be placed under an increased level of inspection.” Bangladeshis are referred to as Bengalis colloquially. He further said, “It is now a national duty to stop hiring Pakistanis.”Many people from Pakistan responded to the tweets, saying that the broad generalization was unfair just because a few drug smugglers caught were Pakistan nationals. The security official has previously posted (in Arabic) comments against the President of Turkey and Qatar, entities with whom the United Arab Emirates has a faltering relationship.The recent statement is inconsolable for every single Pakistani Citizen. I myself being a Pakistani Citizen always loved and supported UAE and i will. Generalizing a whole community for the mistakes of few is not farsightedness.— Broad Peak (@sherqilla) April 2, 2018In 2017, the UAE’s drug control agencies seized around 61.6 tonnes of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances, the Khaleej Times reported Khalfan as saying on March 28.“Police and anti-narcotics forces in the UAE made great efforts in addressing the scourge, arresting miscreants behind drug smuggling bids and handing them to justice,” he said. “We should develop plans and analytical studies that contribute to apprehending drug dealers and smugglers before entering the country.” Related ItemsDubaiGulfPakistanlast_img read more

Hong Kong Can Take Call on India’s Request to Arrest Fugitive Jeweler, Says China

first_imgHong Kong can take a call on India’s request to arrest fugitive jeweler Nirav Modi, accused in the Rs 13,000 crore scam at India’s Punjab National Bank (PNB), based on its local laws and mutual judicial assistance agreements, China said on April 9.“According to the one country two system and basic laws of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) and the assistance and authorization of the central government, the Hong Kong SAR can make a proper arrangement on judicial mutual assistance with other countries,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said, PTI reported. “If India has made a relevant request to the Hong Kong SAR (Special Administrative Region), we leave the matter to the Hong Kong SAR and hope that it will follow the basic laws and relevant judicial system agreement with India to deal with the relevant issue,” Shuang said.India had earlier asked authorities in Hong Kong to arrest Modi. “The ministry has sought the provisional arrest of Nirav Deepak Modi by the government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, People’s Republic of China,” Indian Minister of State for External Affairs VK Singh told the parliament on April 5. India submitted the request for Modi’s arrest to Hong Kong on March 23, Singh said.Meanwhile, non-bailable warrants were issued against Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi by a special court of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), a source within the investigative agency told Reuters. A court in Mumbai approved CBI’s application for the non-bailable warrant, the report dated April 8 said.The CBI has also questioned some officials at overseas branches of Indian banks, who issued loans to companies run by Modi, on basis of the Letters of Undertakings fraudulently issued by PNB employees. Among them is an officer dealing with foreign exchange at Allahabad Bank’s Hong Kong branch. The bank has denied any wrongdoing, the Reuters report said.The Punjab National Bank has also hired lawyers to represent it in the bankruptcy proceedings of Modi’s United States-based company, Firestar Diamond. “We have just engaged lawyers to represent our bank in the U.S. bankruptcy petition as part of recovery process. If money has gone from our system and parked in that company, our bank’s views should be heard before deciding about insolvency petition,” PNB managing director Sunil Mehta told PTI.The Supreme Court of India will hear a petition filed by a lawyer seeking SIT investigation into the scam, which has been dubbed as India’s largest ever banking fraud, on April 9. Twenty arrests have been made so far.Both Modi and Choksi, whose passports have been revoked, have denied allegations against them. Choksi had written a letter to the CBI, accusing it of investigating the case with a “predetermined mind” and saying it is impossible for him to return to India with his passport revoked. Related ItemsChinahong kongNirav ModiPunjab NAtional Banklast_img read more

Delhi to Become World’s Most Populous City in 10 Years: UN Report

first_imgIn 32 years, India will be among the countries with highest growth in world’s urban population, according to the United Nations. India, China and Nigeria will account for 35 per cent of the projected growth of the world’s urban population between 2018 and 2050.By 2050, it is projected that India will have added 416 million people to its urban population, while the corresponding figures for China and Nigeria are 255 million and 189 million, respectively, according to Reuters. Currently, 54 per cent of the world’s urban population lives in Asia despite its relatively lower level of urbanization, followed by Europe and Africa with 13 per cent each, according to the 2018 Revision of World Urbanization Prospects produced by the Population Division of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA).Currently, India has the largest rural population (893 million), followed by China (578 million). While 90 per cent of the world’s rural population in 2018 lives in Asia and Africa, the current 3.4 billion global rural population is expected to rise slightly in a few years and then decline to 3.1 billion by 2050.Two of India’s cities are among the world’s largest. While Tokyo is the world’s largest city, with an agglomeration of 37 million inhabitants, New Delhi comes next with 29 million people, followed by Shanghai (26 million), and Mexico City and São Paulo (each with around 22 million inhabitants).“Today, Cairo, Mumbai, Beijing and Dhaka all have close to 20 million inhabitants. By 2020, Tokyo’s population is projected to begin to decline, while Delhi is projected to continue growing and to become the most populous city in the world around 2028,” the report said.“When urban growth is rapid, ensuring access to housing, water, sanitation, electricity, public transport, education and health care for all is especially challenging,” John Wilmoth, director of the Population Division, said at a UN news conference, according to Reuters. “Managing urban growth to insure that it is sustainable has become one of the most important development challenges of the current century,” he added.Around 2028, India’s population will be greater than China’s. And by 2050, 68 per cent of the world population will live in urban areas, increasing from 55 per cent currently.North America currently has the most urbanized regions (with 82 per cent of its population living in urban areas in 2018), while the corresponding figure for Latin America and the Caribbean is 81 per cent, followed by Europe (74 per cent) and Oceania (68 per cent). The level of urbanization in Asia is now approximating 50 per cent. In contrast, Africa remains mostly rural, with 43 per cent of its population living in urban areas. Related ItemsdevelopmentEconomyUnited Nationslast_img read more

Indian Agency Set to Invoke Fugitive Economic Offenders Ordinance Against Mallya

first_imgThe Enforcement Directorate is soon going to request a special court to begin the procedures for getting liquor baron Vijay Mallya declared as an absconder under the Fugitive Economic Offenders Ordinance, the Hindu reported.The law permits seizing and disposing all the assets of fugitives in India and foreign nations. The agency has narrowed down several assets associated with Mallya in countries like the United Kingdom, United States, France, Scotland and South Africa. If proceedings against him under the Fugitive Economic Offenders Ordinance begin, it can result in such properties being confiscated.The agency could move the application in one week, since almost all the paperwork required for the case has been done, according to the report. A charge sheet has already been filed by the ED against Mallya, against whom extradition proceedings are currently underway in a UK court. Mallya has also been declared a proclaimed offender.According to the Fugitive Economic Offenders Ordinance, once the court accepts the application, it can issue a notice, giving six weeks to the accused to appear before it. If the order is not complied with, the person is then declared a fugitive. The law can be invoked against people who are involved in economic offences that amount to at least Rs 100 crore.The court could also seize the properties of the accused, after which all the rights and titles of these assets will be given to the central government. The court could also order disposal of the properties that have been confiscated.So far, the ED has attached properties worth more than Rs 9,600 crore, as part of the proceedings against Mallya and some others as per the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, the report said.Mallya on May 8 lost a lawsuit that was filed in the United Kingdom by Indian banks looking to recover over £1.15 billion ($1.55 billion) from him. The lenders, including the State Bank of India and IDBI Bank Ltd., can enforce an Indian court ruling, which is linked to accusations that Mallya deliberately defaulted on around $1.4 billion in debt for his now-defunct Kingfisher Airlines Ltd., Judge Andrew Henshaw said in London.While presiding over the extradition hearing of Mallya at Westminster Magistrates Court in London on March 16, judge Emma Arbuthnot said that there were clear signs that the banks went against their own guidelines while sanctioning some loans to Mallya. She had described the case as a “jigsaw puzzle” comprising different pieces of “massive evidence” to be put together to paint a picture, which she said she could now see “more clearly” than a few months ago. Related ItemsEnforcement DirectorateUnited KingdomVijay Mallyalast_img read more

New Legislation on Driving Offences Could Adversely Affect Immigrants in Canada

first_imgIn a move that could affect foreign students, workers and permanent residents to a large extent, a legislation is under scrutiny by some Canadian senators and lawyers to raise the maximum penalty for impaired driving offences in Canada, The Star reported.As of now, conviction of impaired driving entails a maximum penalty of five years in jail, which is considered “ordinary criminality” under immigration law. This does not affect the permanent status of immigrants.However, in the proposed legislation, the increased maximum penalty of 10 years would automatically classify impaired driving as “serious criminality.” So even if a first-time immigrant offender is convicted and is only ordered to pay a fine, they would still lose their immigration status and be banned from Canada.“We take impaired driving very seriously and we don’t want impaired drivers behind the wheel,” Senator Ratna Omidvar was quoted as saying by the publication. Saying that if a Canadian citizen is convicted of impaired driving for the first time, they could be sentenced to just a fine, she added: “A permanent resident in the same situation would pay the fine and face deportation. It is a double whammy not on all people but just on a class of people. That’s an unintended consequence. The impact on permanent residents would be huge and disproportionate to what a Canadian would get.”The Canadian Bar Association has asked the Senate to carefully consider the bill, saying that it wants the penalty to remain classified as “ordinary criminality.” The changes could put “significant strain” on “Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada and Canada Border Services Agency resources,” the association added, saying that there should be an exception to the 10-year penalty threshold for offences that do not involve serious bodily injury or death.“We remain concerned that Bill C-46 will introduce uncertainty into the law and result in significantly increased litigation and delays,” the association said. “Our recommendations are intended to continue to protect Canadians from impaired driving, without triggering the serious criminality consequences.”Under the Canadian immigration law, serious criminality refers to terrorism, (threats to) national security and membership to organized crime. “Lumping first-time impaired driving offenders with them is disproportionate and unfair. It’s an overkill and oversight,” immigration lawyer Robin Seligman said to the publication.The upper senate will sit this week to discuss amendments to the bill. Related ItemsCanadaDeportationlast_img read more

Modi Rushes to Insure Half a Billion Indians Before Election

first_imgPrime Minister Narendra Modi’s plan to provide health insurance to half a billion Indians — a mass of people larger than the entire population of South America — before he seeks a fresh mandate next year is already facing serious hurdles.Almost five months after announcing the ambitious program, the government is still working to lock in hospitals and insurance companies in time for its planned August launch. It aims to cover the poorest 40 percent in a country where a 2017 World Health Organisation report found spending on health pushed more than 52 million people below the poverty line.Fighting against accusations from the opposition Congress Party and other political groups that it’s friendlier to business than the poor, Modi’s government is also keen to shore up public support and roll out the program before the federal election scheduled for early 2019.Although beneficiaries have been identified and the IT infrastructure has been put in place, the involvement of hospitals — public and private — and insurance companies was still to be finalized, said Indu Bhushan, chief executive officer of the government’s project.“If we have to provide services to such a large number of people, we can’t do it without the private sector,” Bhushan said. “We don’t have that kind of healthcare capacity in the government sector,” he said, adding he was hopeful the program would be ready by India’s Independence Day on Aug. 15.It’s the government’s second major welfare push this year — in March it presented a draft bill on a social security program designed to cover the country’s 500 million poorest workers, including those in informal employment.The total cost of the program hasn’t yet been calculated, but the promise is to provide poor families up to 500,000 rupees ($7,250) in annual cover. An earlier federal health insurance scheme had managed to cover just 61 percent of those eligible after 10 years of operation, government data show.“It will not be possible for healthcare providers to respond to such a huge expansion of coverage without substantial investment in medical facilities and manpower,” said Owen O’Donnell, associate professor at the Rotterdam-based Erasmus School of Economics. “Without that, the extension of coverage risks being nominal rather than real.”India has long under invested in health and spending as percentage of GDP is lower than most low income countries, including neighbors Nepal and Maldives.Since December, Modi’s been facing rising political turbulence. He won his home state of Gujarat on a wafer-thin majority, lost crucial by-elections in the country’s most populous state, failed to form the government in Karnataka and witnessed protests by students, farmers and underprivileged communities.“The Modi government has decided to launch the ambitious Ayushman Bharat health insurance scheme with an eye on the 2019 polls,” said Satish Misra, senior fellow at the Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi. He said strategy behind the program mirrors the massive employment guarantee program for the poor that helped its rival Congress win re-election in 2009.The other threat to a speedy roll-out may be India’s federal structure. Health services are controlled by state governments and some like Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal are ruled by regional parties who staunchly oppose the BJP. As a result, they are reluctant to roll out Modi’s program, citing their own pre-existing insurance systems.Assuring quality for money is a critical step, said Stephen Leeder, emeritus professor of public health at the University of Sydney. “If quality is low the scheme will not be politically sustainable,” he said.India’s state governments have the job of deciding whether to run the program through the expansion of the existing health insurance industry — as in the U.S. — or by establishing trusts which directly pay healthcare providers. “The evidence is strongly in favor of one insurer or multiple state-based government insurers,” said Leeder. “This move is highly political and the background political commitment can make or break the scheme.”The program’s reach will also be limited by India’s poor health facilities, dated equipment and shortage of staff in rural areas, where the majority of people eligible for benefits live. India has 0.8 hospital beds per 1000 people, compared to an average of 3.3 among Asian countries, according to data from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. The ratio is often taken as a measure of in-patient health infrastructure.“It is not just about giving money,” said Sanghita Bhattacharyya, senior specialist with Public Health Foundation of India, an independent think-tank. “People in remote villages may need to travel hundreds of kilometers to get to the nearest health facilities.”(c) 2018, Bloomberg Related ItemsNarendra Modilast_img read more

China to Allow Foreign Students to Take Part-Time Jobs

first_imgChina is going to allow international students to work on a part-time basis while they pursue their academic courses in the country’s universities. The move aims to make the country’s higher educational system more attractive, the Ministry of Education said in a statement provided to China Daily exclusively.The Chinese government has been introducing steps to allow foreign students in Beijing and Shanghai to take part-time jobs or internships off campus after getting permission from their academic institutions and the entry and exit administrative authorities, the report added.China will allow international students at Chinese universities nationwide to take part-time jobs during their studies to make the country’s higher educational system more attractive, according to China Daily citing a statement from the Ministry of Education— People’s Daily,China (@PDChina) August 7, 2018About 442,000 foreign students from 205 countries or regions studied in China’s schools and other education institutions in 2016, PTI reported, citing official figures. Over 11 percent of them received government scholarships.The number of Indian students in the country is also increasing. China is receiving more students from India than the United Kingdom, the Times of India reported earlier this year. As many as 18,171 Indian students were studying in China in 2016 while the corresponding number in UK institutions was 18,015, the publication said. The number of Indians studying in China rose from 765 a decade ago to 16,694 in 2015, it added.Most Indian students go to China to pursue courses in medicine, due to the lower costs involved as compared to private medical colleges in India, PTI reported.The maximum number of students in China come from South Korea, followed by the United States. Thailand is the next major source country, ahead of Pakistan and India, according to TOI. China is expected to host more than 500,000 international students by 2020, according to a Times Higher Education World University Rankings report issued in 2017. The country is bringing in various important changes into its education policy to attract more students from foreign countries. In 2015, a pilot policy implemented by Shanghai allowed international graduates of a Chinese university to accept internships or to launch their own business in the Zhangjiang National Innovation Demonstration Zone for up to two years after graduation, the China Daily report added. The city then expanded the policy in 2016 to allow foreign students to start a business at the zone during their studies.The Ministry of Public Security also introduced a policy in 2016, under which foreign students in Beijing who were recommended by their universities could take up part-time jobs with companies in the city’s Zhongguancun Science Park or get involved in entrepreneurship, following which they would get an annotation of “entrepreneurship” added to their student visa, according to the publication.“It makes sense for the country to more broadly expand such innovative policies since it serves the strategy of reinvigorating China’s workforce development,” the report quoted Wang Huiyao, Director of the Center for China and Globalisation, a Beijing-based independent think tank, as saying. “Foreign employees can give domestic enterprises an advantage as they expand overseas, plus it’s only logical that these graduates want to put into practice what they have learned,” he added. Related ItemsacademicsChinalast_img read more

U.S. Extends Suspension of Premium Processing for H-1B Visas

first_imgThe U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has extended the temporary suspension of premium processing of H-1B visas. It will also expand this temporary suspension to include certain additional H-1B petitions, the agency said.  The recent suspension period can last until Feb.19, 2019. This extension of suspension is meant to process long-pending petitions, filed for expedition of the H-1B visa process, the USCIS said on Aug.28. The temporary suspension can reduce overall H-1B processing time, it said.  The agency had announced in March that it will suspend premium processing for cap-subjected H-1B visa petitions till Sept.10, 2018. It has now extended this period of suspension up to Feb.19, 2019. The premium processing of H-1B visa requires submission of fee worth $1,225, in addition to all other filing fees required by the application.“During this temporary suspension, we will reject any Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service, filed with an FY 2019 cap-subject H-1B petition. If a petitioner submits one combined check for the fees for Form I-907 and Form I-129 (Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker), we will reject both forms. When we resume premium processing, petitioners may file a Form I-907 for FY 2019 cap-subject H-1B petitions that remain pending,” the USCIS said on its website. However, during the suspension of premium processing service, one can request to expedite an FY 2019 cap-subject H-1B petition, provided the petition meets the Expedite Criteria given on the USCIS website.   Premium Processing Service provides expedited processing for certain employment-based petitions and applications. Specifically, USCIS guarantees 15 calendar day processing to those petitioners or applicants who choose to use this service or USCIS will refund the Premium Processing Service fee. Guarantee of 15-calendar day processing means that USCIS will issue an approval notice, a denial notice, a notice of intent to deny, a request for evidence, or it will open an investigation for fraud or misrepresentation within the 15-day period to those who opt for this service. The H-1B visa is the most common visa for highly-skilled Indian IT professionals to work at companies in the United States, and has been at the center of U.S. President Donald Trump’s crackdown on immigration. The visa is valid for three years, and can be renewed for another three years.  There was a 42 percent increase in the denial of H-1B petitions for India-born professionals from the third to the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2017, which started July 1, 2017, the National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP) said in its report in July. Related ItemsH-1B visaUSCISlast_img read more

Companies Say Trump Is Hurting Business by Limiting Legal Immigration

first_imgThe Trump administration is using the country’s vast and nearly opaque immigration bureaucracy to constrict the flow of foreign workers into the United States by throwing up new roadblocks to limit legal arrivals.The government is denying more work visas, asking applicants to provide additional information and delaying approvals more frequently than just a year earlier. Hospitals, hotels, technology companies and other businesses say they are now struggling to fill jobs with the foreign workers they need.With foreign hires missing, the employees who remain are being forced to pick up the slack. Seasonal industries like hotels and landscaping are having to turn down customers or provide fewer services. Corporate executives worry about the long-term effect of losing talented engineers and programmers to countries like Canada that are laying out the welcome mat for skilled foreigners.At Northwell Health’s pathology lab on Long Island, a new doctor’s cubicle stands empty, her computer and microscope untouched. Other residents started July 1, but she is stuck in India’s Punjab state, held up by unexplained delays in her visa.“There have been delays in processing that we have not felt before,” said Dr. Andrew C. Yacht, chief academic officer at Northwell, which includes Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan and North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, New York.In April 2017, President Donald Trump signed a “Buy American and Hire American” executive order, directing government officials to “rigorously enforce” immigration laws. The order did not get the kind of attention that followed the administration’s decision to separate families at the Mexican border this summer.A few months later, the president endorsed legislation that would cut legal immigration by half. The bill was introduced by two Republican senators, Tom Cotton of Arkansas and David Perdue of Georgia. But Republican leaders in Congress have not advanced it.Some lawmakers say Trump is using administrative means to reshape immigration policy because those changes have stalled on Capitol Hill.“If they want to have a proposal on immigration, they should send it to Congress,” said Rep. Ro Khanna, a Democrat whose district includes parts of Silicon Valley. “The administration should engage in that conversation. To unilaterally and without any accountability change what Congress has authorized is not democratic.”In practice, businesses say the increased red tape has made it harder to secure employment-based visas. That has added to the difficulty of finding qualified workers with the unemployment rate falling to 3.9 percent.A recent analysis of government data by the National Foundation for American Policy, a nonpartisan research group, found that the denial rate for H-1B visa petitions for skilled foreign workers had increased 41 percent in the last three months of the 2017 fiscal year, compared with the third quarter. Government requests for additional information for applications doubled in the fourth quarter, a few months after Trump issued his order.Experts say a sustained reduction in immigration could dampen growth over time as more baby boomers retire, leaving big gaps in the job market.That goes for high-skilled immigrants and low-skilled workers, said Francine D. Blau, an economist at Cornell. The latter will be vital in fields like elder care and child care, as well as construction and cleaning.“A lot of our labor-force growth comes from immigrants and their children,” Blau said. “Without them, we’d suffer the problems associated with countries with an aging population, like Japan.”The Business Roundtable, a group of corporate leaders, recently challenged the Trump administration over changes that it says threaten the livelihoods of thousands of skilled foreign workers, and economic growth and competitiveness.In a statement, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services said the administration was “relentlessly pursuing necessary immigration reforms that move toward a merit-based system.” It added that all petitions and applications were handled “fairly, efficiently, and effectively on a case-by-case basis.”The H-1B program, which was created to bring in foreigners with skills that business leaders argued would strengthen the economy, has long been a target for some politicians. The visa program has been criticized because corporations have exploited it to replace U.S. workers.Still, many economists say H-1B holders are valuable. Immigrants file patents at twice the rate of native-born Americans and start about 25 percent of high-tech companies in the United States.“There’s absolutely no research that supports the idea that cutting legal immigration is good for the economy,” said Ethan Lewis, a Dartmouth economist.Hospitals in particular argue that they need foreign doctors who are more willing than native-born Americans to take jobs in less glamorous and lower-paying fields, like internal and family medicine. Of Northwell’s 1,826 resident doctors, 165 came in under H1-B or J-1 student visas.Nearly one-third of pathology residents come from other countries, according to the National Resident Matching Program. But the number of overseas applicants in all specialties has dropped for two years in a row.“The administration’s policies are having a chilling effect on the interest of international medical graduates coming to the United States to train,” said Mona M. Signer, chief executive of the matching program.The missing Indian pathologist’s workload at Northwell has been spread among 11 residents, lengthening the time they are on call.“Our nation’s ability to care for patients is dependent on international medical graduates,” Yacht said.The effect of lower-skilled immigrants is more debatable. George J. Borjas, a Harvard economist, has found that an influx of such workers reduced the incomes of people without a high school degree between 3 and 5 percent.Giovanni Peri, an economist at the University of California, Davis, agrees that individual workers can be hurt by competition from lower-paid foreigners. But he said the overall effect on wages was modest. Immigration also tends to bolster the incomes of college-educated Americans.Peri points to what happened when the government deported between 400,000 and 500,000 Mexicans between 1929 and 1934, most of whom worked in agriculture and construction. With fewer people to work the fields, farm owners and agricultural businesses cut administrative, sales and clerical jobs because there was not enough to do.“Out of eight or 10 positions held by Mexicans, maybe one or two were taken by Americans,” Peri said. “The rest disappeared.”Rob Hurst is not concerned with the macroeconomics of immigration. He is just struggling to keep bathrooms clean.This summer, he has found himself on his hands and knees scrubbing toilets and tubs at Edgartown Commons, a hotel he manages on Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts. Five Jamaican workers who had long worked at the property failed to get H2-B seasonal-work visas.“I’m 65 years old, but you got to do what you got to do,” he said. “We did hire contract workers, but it’s never going to be as good as people with years of experience.”In the past, returning H2-B visa workers were not counted against the program’s annual cap of 66,000. Congress declined to renew that exemption in December 2016.Foreign workers are also growing frustrated about the clampdown on visas and rising anti-immigrant sentiment.Uday Verma, a software developer from India, in Iowa City, Iowa, Aug. 31, 2018.Uday Verma is leaving after 12 years in Iowa, time he spent earning a graduate degree in computer science and working for a technology company.Verma, 37, who emigrated from India, has repeatedly renewed his H-1B visa while waiting fruitlessly for permanent resident status — also known as a green card. Had he been successful, he could have easily switched employers or started his own business.“I can’t make a plan here,” Verma said. “You’re perpetually in this state of limbo. It just doesn’t make sense anymore to stay here and keep pursuing this American dream.”Verma, his wife and their 9-year-old son plan to be living in Toronto by the time their U.S. visas expire in the second week of September.He is taking advantage of the Global Talent Stream initiative the Canadian government started last year. It lets companies in innovative fields, like artificial intelligence, quickly secure visas for workers with vital skills.With experience with AI programming tools, Verma got a visa in two weeks, and could become a permanent resident in six months or so.His employer, Kira Systems, makes software that reads and analyzes legal contracts. The company has more than doubled its employment in the past year, to 115 people. Noah Waisberg, a co-founder and the chief executive, said half of Kira’s technical staff was from China, India, Russia and other countries.Canada has long welcomed immigrants. “But that is even more so relative to the United States, given the climate in America now,” Waisberg said. “It’s certainly helped us recruit.”Trump’s “hire American” push is helping some domestic businesses. One of those is Nexient, which provides software services and competes with firms in India and elsewhere. Fearful of becoming too dependent on offshore firms, corporate customers are increasingly interested in having domestic partners, said Mark Orttung, Nexient’s chief executive.“You still have to win the business, but it has been an accelerator for us,” he said.Nexient is based in Newark, California, but its programmers are mainly in Michigan and Indiana. The startup employs more than 500 people, up from 400 last year.About 10 percent of Nexient’s employees have H-1B visas, typically engineers who have mastered old software systems and other niche technologies in corporate data centers.Those foreign workers are fielding more government requests for information and waiting longer for visa renewals, Orttung said. “It adds a great deal of uncertainty to the lives of some of our employees.”© New York Times 2018 Related Itemslast_img read more

50,000 Indians Became American Citizens in 2017, Next Only to Mexicans

first_imgA total of 50,802 Indian immigrants took the American Oath of Allegiance in 2017, becoming the second largest group after Mexicans to become American citizens.Although the Trump administration is tightening immigration and citizenship rules, there was a numerical increase in the number of Mexicans, Indians, and Chinese citizens giving up their home country passports to become American citizens in 2017, the Times of India reported, citing data from the Department of Homeland Security. During the same time, there was a drop of six percent in naturalization numbers.In 2017, 15,009 more Mexicans became American citizens than in 2016, an increase of 14 percent, the report said. At the same time, 4,614 more Indians gave up their Indian passports than in 2016, marking an increase of 10 percent, while Chinese citizens came in at third, with 1,880 more Chinese giving up their red passport, an increase of 5 percent over 2016.However, those aspiring to become U.S. citizens are finding it tougher now, the publication said, citing officials. According to the New York Times, President Donald Trump wants to cap the number of refugees that can come to the United States to 30,000, and that number is the lowest ceiling any American president has placed on the refugee program since its creation in 1980.Although there is a decline in the naturalization numbers, the number of Indian immigrants who entered the country has seen a massive upswing in seven years. Between 2010 and 2017, 8.3 lakh Indians came to America, the highest among all countries.The naturalization process gives U.S. citizenship to foreign nationals after they have met relevant requirements. It gives them the right to vote. Only green card holders are selected for the naturalization process.However, the huge backlolig in citizenship application processing has been a matter of concern for green card holders. According to the National Partnership for New Americans (NPNA), the naturalization backlog has gone up to 7.53 lakh applications, a 93 percent rise over the 2015 numbers. On Sept. 17, NPNA filed a lawsuit after the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) failed to respond to requests to provide documents related to backlog of citizenship applications.Indians account for the highest number of highly skilled professionals waiting to get the permanent legal status or the green card. As of May 2018, there were 395,025 foreign citizens who were waiting for the green card under the category of employment-based preference. Out of this total number of foreign nationals, 306,601 were Indians, the figures by USCIS showed. Related ItemsIndian AmericanUnited Stateslast_img read more

Half a Billion Millennial Voters Are Face Of Asia 2019

first_imgIn the first half of 2019, a billion Asians will elect the next leaders of the region’s two largest democracies.Half – 400 million in India, and 79 million in Indonesia – are from the millennial generation, born roughly between 1982 and 2001. Many will cast ballots for the first time. Although the threat of sectarian hatred looms large over both the Indian and Indonesian elections, economics will still take center stage.The issue that will resonate most with younger voters is jobs.Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo will seek a second term on April 17, promising to “re-industrialize” the economy. The commodity boom that helped ameliorate high unemployment after the 1998 Asian crisis has faded. Without pushing into large-scale manufacturing and adding more value to the country’s raw-materials exports, it’s hard to see how municipalities with 9-percent-plus joblessness in West Java can close the gap with the national average of around 5 percent.Jokowi, as the president is known, wants to keep spending on infrastructure, even though foreign direct investment is set for its first annual decline since he came to power in 2014. But his opponent, the former general Prabowo Subianto, is striking a more nationalistic pose by vowing to review Chinese belt-and-road investments, including a signature high-speed rail project, if he comes to power. Prabowo’s solution for attracting more private investment is to slash taxes and government spending.Lack of jobs and widespread agrarian distress are also the main campaign issues for Indian opposition leader Rahul Gandhi. He’s looking to unseat Prime Minister Narendra Modi over his disastrous currency ban and a botched goods and services tax – moves that have hurt small firms and their workers disproportionately.Since it’s politically suicidal to cut fuel subsidies in an election year, both Modi and Jokowi will hope global oil prices stay low. Indonesia’s cash handouts to the poor will double in 2019. But with revenue growing strongly, the budget deficit is still expected to come in below 2 percent of GDP.The same isn’t true for India, though. Encouraged by his party’s wins in recent state polls, Gandhi is putting pressure on Modi to waive farmers’ loans. Meanwhile, the prime minister is wooing the middle class by pruning the list of items taxed at 28 percent, the highest of the five GST rates. Even without the additional burden, the budget deficit in the fiscal year ending in March would struggle to meet the goal of 3.3 percent of GDP. Elections will be held by May.For both countries, the biggest “known unknown” of 2019 is the Federal Reserve’s policy. If the Fed takes a pause only after three interest-rate increases in 2019, the Indian rupee and the Indonesian rupiah, Asia’s two worst-performing currencies this year, could remain under pressure. In Indonesia, the risk is from the current account deficit, which at about 3.4 percent of GDP is already large. With prices of palm oil and natural rubber slumping, exports may be slow to revive. In India, an abrupt change of guard at the central bank could lead to more relaxed financial conditions – perhaps even interest-rate cuts – to stoke credit-fueled growth ahead of the elections.If the Fed sets the backdrop for the 2019 Asian polls, Facebook Inc. could determine their tone, even outcomes. The social media platform has been under scrutiny ever since the Cambridge Analytica scandal, when it emerged that personal data of 87 million Facebook users were obtained by the consulting firm that had, among other things, helped get President Donald Trump elected.Analysts are dreading a repeat of the role social media played in securing a victory for far-right presidential candidate Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil. WhatsApp, the messaging service owned by Facebook, has 250 million users in India, which has seen murders and lynchings triggered by fake news. Indonesian Communications and Information Technology Minister Rudiantara(1) told me last year of his frustration over social media firms’ slow and inadequate response to requests to take down offensive content. A third of his countrymen use Facebook.How a billion Asian voters navigate around misinformation, fake news and a hardening of majority sentiment against minorities (Indonesia’s ethnic Chinese and India’s Muslims) on their way to the polling booths will be worth watching. There will be a third important Asian election next year. Thailand’s military junta, in power since May 2014, has decided to hand over power in polls scheduled for Feb. 24. Considering that elected leaders keep getting unseated by the courts or the army, a durable democracy in Thailand would be a huge positive for investors. At this juncture, though, that may be too much to expect from 2019.Mukherjee is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering industrial companies and financial services. He previously was a columnist for Reuters Breakingviews. He has also worked for the Straits Times, ET NOW and Bloomberg News.(c) 2018, Bloomberg Opinion Related Itemslast_img read more