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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

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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

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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 Change.org 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

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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

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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 217-sq.km 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

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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… pic.twitter.com/LTCj5OW98m— 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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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