IndUS Business Journal

Amid visa row, US says its greatly values Indian investments

Apr 25, 2017 0

Washington– In the context of current fears about possible tightening of the US visa regime, the American administration has said that it greatly values investments by Indian companies and wants strong Indo-US economic ties.

“We want to see US-India business-to-business ties remain strong,” US State Separtment acting spokesman Mark Toner told reporters here at his daily press briefing on Monday.

He was responding to questions on the controversy following recent executive orders signed by US President Donald Trump which indicate a possible tightening of the H-1B visas.

“We greatly value Indian companies’ continued investment in the US economy, which also, of course, supports thousands of US jobs,” Toner said.

“With respect to any new requirements on visas, I’d have to check and see if that’s been updated,” he said.

“It’s important to remember that this is always a part of how our consular bureau works and our consular officers work overseas, and our embassies and missions work overseas, and that is we’re always reviewing the processes that are in place to issue these visas and finding ways to strengthen them, because we want to ensure the security of the American people,” he added.

The issue of the Trump administration mulling curbs in H-1B visas was taken up by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley with the American authorities during his just concluded visit to the country.

The issue was raised by Jaitley during his meetings last week in Washington with US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, as well as with Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.

“Finance Minister Arun Jaitley raised the issue of H-1B visas for skilled professionals from India and highlighted the contribution which Indian companies and professionals are making to US economy,” an Indian Finance Ministry statement said.

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As Mallya’s custody sought, India’s extradition success rate is 36 percent

Apr 25, 2017 0

By Rakesh Dubbudu

Vijay Mallya

The government has sought custody of liquor baron Vijay Mallya from the UK, but Indias success rate at extradition has been no more than 36 per cent over 15 years, according to a report by Factly.in, a data journalism portal. This means India managed one extradition of every three sought.

While 62 fugitives have been extradited to India from a foreign country between 2002 and 2016, 110 fugitives are yet to be extradited though a formal request has been made by India, according to an answer to the Lok Sabha on December 6, 2016, Factly reported.

Mallya was arrested by the Scotland Yard — and released on bail — on April 18, 2017, in connection with an extradition request filed by India on February 8, 2017. The UK government has sent the request to the concerned court, and the arrest marks the beginning of the extradition process.

Mallya is wanted in several cases related to economic offences in India. The now-defunct Kingfisher Airlines that he set up owes over Rs 9,000 crore ($1.5 billion) to state-owned and private banks, it has been widely reported.

There were 16 extradition requests pending with UK as of July 2016, according to an answer to the Lok Sabha. Only one fugitive has been extradited from the UK — Samirbhai Vinubhai Patel, an Indian citizen, for murder; the extradition came in October 2016, 23 years after India’s extradition treaty with the UK came into force in 1993.

The highest extraditions happened from the UAE (18), followed by the US (9). While four each were extradited from Canada and Thailand, three have been extradited from Germany and South Africa.

India has extradition treaties with 47 countries, among them Afghanistan, Australia, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belgium, Bhutan, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Egypt, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mexico, Nepal, the Netherlands, Oman, the Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, the Ukraine, Uzbekistan and Vietnam.

India also has extradition arrangements with nine countries — Croatia, Fiji, Italy, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Sweden and Tanzania.

What is the process of extradition?

A request for extradition can be initiated against a fugitive criminal who is formally accused of, charged with or convicted of an extradition offence. The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) takes up extradition requests with the concerned foreign countries when a request for extradition is received from the relevant law enforcement agencies in India.

All extradition requests should be supported by documents and information as prescribed by the MEA guidelines. It has to be noted that each extradition request is different and the request is dependent on the specific treaty/agreement signed with a country. The offence should also be defined in the list of the extradition offences.

What are the offences defined in the extradition treaty with UK?

The extradition treaty signed in 1993 with the UK defines the scope of the extradition offence as one which is punishable by law for a term of imprisonment of at least one year. The treaty does not classify political offences as extradition offences but it provides an exhaustive list of offences that will not be treated as a political offence.

Most fugitives extradited in 2005

The most (8) fugitives were extradited in 2005 followed by seven each in 2003 and 2004. Six fugitives were extradited in 2015 during the rule of the current government.

Most people extradited for murder & terrorism-related offences

Out of the 62 fugitives extradited since 2002, 14 were for murder-related offences and 10 for offences related to criminal conspiracy.

As many as nine fugitives were extradited for terrorism-related offences, including three from the UAE, in relation to the 1993 Mumbai bomb blasts. (IANS)

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Green the new norm in cosmetic industry

Apr 25, 2017 0

By Nivedita

New Delhi–Going green has become the new anthem in the fashion and lifestyle categories and it’s not just designers who are promoting it in a big way through their collections, but cosmetic brands are also going eco-friendly with their range. Experts feel that “evolved high-end consumers” are helping in expanding the “natural” space in the Indian beauty industry.

According to a report, India’s retail beauty and cosmetics industry is likely to almost treble to $2.68 billion by 2020 so, it won’t be wrong to say that every new invention in the industry is setting a trend.

Rishabh Mariwala

Rishabh Mariwala, founder of a luxury bath and body care brand PureSense, says that “In the luxury segment, the high-end consumer is evolved”.

“This consumer has seen multiple brands on their travels abroad where the market is proliferated with natural brands. So, the brands into luxury premium segment will surely see a growth in Indian market,” Mariwala told IANS.

With a change in consumer lifestyle and healthier habits, the “natural” space is continuously expanding and for Mariwala one of the main reasons behind this is “formulations along with technology is helping to bridge the gap between user experience and natural philosophy”.

The growth in consumer consciousness concerning ethical and sustainable issues in the beauty industry is driving a socially responsible response internationally. Actress Drew Barrymore is case in point. She launched her eco-friendly make-up line Flower Beauty in 2013.

There are many Indian brands too that do not test on animals and are promoting a healthy way of living life. Soul Tree, The Nature’s Co., Soulflower, Aaranyaa, Just Herbs, Nature’s Essence, Kama Ayurveda, Biotique Botanicals, Khadi, SOS Organics, Sattvik Organics & Organic Therapie, Forest Essentials, Lotus Herbals and Shahnaz Husain are some of the examples.

“There is an increasing awareness about protection of the environment. Therefore, the popularity of eco-friendly products will increase in the days to come.

“Apart from the ‘back to nature’ trend, there is also a ‘total well-being’ trend sweeping the world. People are more aware about herbal healing and the harmful effects of chemicals. They will opt for eco-friendly products,” Husain told IANS.

The beauty expert also says that due to the increasing awareness, it is becoming easier to convince consumers about eco-friendly products and brands and this is the reason why the “market for eco-friendly products has been increasing with consumers displaying a preference for them”.

Aradhika S Mehta, Head Training of the British beauty brand The Body Shop, emphasises that all the products under the brand “are created using the finest ingredients sourced from the four corners of the globe which are not tested on animals and are absolutely cruelty free”.

“The Enrich Not Exploit Commitment is The Body Shop’s new global CSR strategy that underpins all aspects of brand’s operation. Under each of The Commitment’s three pillars: enrich our people, enrich our products and enrich our planet,” she told IANS.

She also feels that cosmetic brands have started making people believe that they’re worth a product that is environmentally friendly, fashionable and accessible.

“Eco-friendly beautification is the safest and most responsible way of using cosmetics and it has the potential of going a long way in forthcoming years. Lately, we have been seeing an increase in cosmetic products that are eco-friendly to cater to this desire along with real efforts involved by the loyal consumers,” said Mehta.

For these experts, the space of eco-friendly products in the current market has grown very much in the last few years and will without a doubt become the ‘norm’ in the beauty market within the next four to five years. (IANS)

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Reliance Industries overtakes TCS as most valuable company

Apr 24, 2017 0

Mumbai– Industrialist Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries (RIL) on Monday regained its position as the most valued company of the country in terms of market capitalisation (m-cap) after a gap of four years.

The company’s shares on the BSE closed higher by 1.19 per cent or Rs 16.65 to Rs 1,416.40 from its previous close at Rs 1,399.75. This lifted RIL’s m-cap to Rs 4,60,518.80 crore.

The company overtook Tata Group’s multinational IT company Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) in terms of m-cap.

Mukesh Ambani

The Tata Group’s multinational IT company’s shares on BSE gained by 0.77 per cent or Rs 17.90 to Rs 2,329.10 from its previous close at Rs 2,311.20. The company’s m-cap stood at Rs 4,58,932.37 crore.

On April 21 also, RIL had overtaken TCS in terms of m-cap during intra-day trade. The company’s shares had closed higher by 2.22 per cent to Rs 1,399.75 per share on last Friday with an m-cap at Rs 4,55,105.33 crore.

In comparative terms, the share price of RIL has risen by 31.2 per cent from January 1 to April 24, whereas TCS’ scrip price has fallen by 1.1 per cent.

During the period under review the NSE Nifty only surged by 12.6 per cent and BSE Sensex gained by 11.4 per cent.

“Factors like healthy growth of RIL’s traditional business such as petro-chemical and the fact that its telecom venture has transitioned from a capex-to-customer acquisition phase has worked for the company,” Deepak Jasani, Head – Retail Research, HDFC Securities, told IANS.

“However, structural changes in the IT industry and digital disruption have hurt TCS. The company’s margins are expected to face headwinds as a result of US immigration policies and an appreciating currency.”

TCS had overtaken RIL’s m-cap during February 2013. RIL’s stock had made a record high of Rs 1,626.05 on January 15, 2008. (IANS)

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Northeast India’s largest IT hub opens in Tripura

Apr 24, 2017 0

Agartala–Northeast India’s sixth and largest Information Technology (IT) hub was inaugurated here on Monday to boost employment and e-governance besides to export software technology.

Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar, accompanied by IT and Education Minister Tapan Chakraborty and Software Technology Parks of India (STPI) Director General Omkar Rai inaugurated the IT hub, set up at a cost of Rs 50 crore.

Sarkar said that this IT hub would help to create employment opportunities for the IT educated youths and to further extend the e-governance to the door step of people.

Rai said that it would help the state to bring famous IT companies of India to set off their business and services taking the facilities of this newly set-up IT hub.

According to Rai, the STPI, under the union Ministry of Electronic and Information Technology, shared technological knowledge with the state government to set up this hub, sixth of its kind in northeast India and largest such hub in the region.

“This IT hub would help India to export software technology,” he added.

Chakraborty said: “The globally standard IT hub would provide much needed impetus to the upcoming IT and IT services based industries creating huge job opportunities.

“Tripura last year got the award from the central government for its performance in IT and e-governance. Many e-governance based facilities and services already extended up to gram panchayat level in Tripura.”

Noting people are getting various certificates and documents from their panchayats or blocks concerned through the e-district scheme, he said that over 30 lakh people, or 80 per cent of the state’s 37 lakh, are now using mobile phones leading to an IT boom.

Principal Secretary, Industries and Information Technology, M. Nagaraju said that in the new IT hub, ready-to-use incubation space would be available for start-up companies, aspiring entrepreneurs, Indian and multi-national companies as per their requirements. (IANS)

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TCS, Infosys got only 8.8 percent of H-1B visas, Nasscom rebuts US claim

Apr 24, 2017 0

Bengaluru– Indian IT industry’s apex organisation has said that the two top companies — TCS and Infosys — got only 8.8 per cent of the H-1B visas for placement of workers in the United States.

“Of the six Indian IT companies, software majors TCS (Tata Consultancy Services) and Infosys received 7,504 H-1B visas in FY 2015, which is 8.8 per cent of the total H-1B visas,” said the National Association of Software Services and Companies (Nasscom) in a statement here.

The apex body’s clarification was in response to a US official last week accusing top Indian IT firms TCS and Infosys of unfairly cornering majority of the H-IB visas, by applying more in the lottery system.

President Donald Trump

Only six Indian IT firms were among the top 20 recipients of the H-1B visas in fiscal 2015 for their professionals to work in the US, said Nasscom.

US President Donald Trump signed an executive order last week to reform the H-1B visas norms by replacing the lottery system with a merit-based immigration policy.

“Every reputable data source in the US has documented a growing shortfall between the supply and demand for computer science majors in the US workforce, especially in cutting-edge fields such as cloud, big data, and mobile computing,” asserted Nasscom.

The US Department of Labor estimates that there will be 2.4 million unfilled STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) jobs by 2018, with 50 per cent of the vacancies in IT-related positions.

“Indian IT firms account for less than 20 per cent of the H-1B visas; although Indian nationals get 71 per cent of them, testifying their high skill levels, especially in the very coveted STEM skills category,” stressed Nasscom.

Noting that the annual number of Indian IT specialists working on temporary visas for Indian IT service firms was 0.009 per cent of the 158-million-member US workforce, a Nasscom survey also found that the average wage for visa holders is $82,000 besides a fixed cost of $15,000 incurred on each visa, including its fee and related expenses.

“The average wage for visa holders is over 35 per cent higher than the minimum prescribed exempt wage of $60,000,” pointed out the Nasscom statement.

All companies, including the US, Indian and others, hire locally and bridge the skills gap by bringing in highly skilled professionals to temporarily work in the US on H-1B and other visas.

“Indian IT firms follow the global delivery model with US and global counterparts working with 75 per cent of the Fortune 500 companies, to enable them become more competitive globally and creating jobs locally in the US,” reiterated the statement.

The Indian IT Industry is a “net creator” of jobs in the US and supports half a million jobs directly and indirectly.

Refuting the American accusation, Infosys said it was committed to helping its US clients leverage technology to transform their businesses, empower their employees in new ways and become more competitive.

“To do this, we invest in the local communities in which we operate, including hiring local American top talent, bringing education and training to our clients to shrink the skills gap and work with policymakers to foster innovation within states and across the country,” said Infosys in a statement to IANS here.

Responding to reporters’ queries on the issue on Monday in New Delhi, Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said India is taking up its concerns with the US on the H-1B visa issue and not about individual companies.

“No one is questioning America’s sovereign right to issue visas… we’re only talking about their commitments made in their understanding with us on issuing visas to Indian professionals. There is no talk of individual companies,” she said. (IANS)

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Jet Airways to add 42 weekly flights

Apr 24, 2017 0

Mumbai–Full-service airline Jet Airways on Monday said that it will add 42 weekly flights to meet an expected surge in demand during the summer holiday season.

According to the company, the introduction of additional frequencies and wide-body aircraft deployments between key metros will boost capacity on existing sectors during the summer season.

The airline will commence operations between Nagpur and New Delhi, Lucknow and Kolkata, and Kozhikode and Bengaluru as part of its broader strategy of connecting India’s emerging cities with metros by direct flights.

It will also introduce additional frequencies on the highly travelled Delhi-Amritsar and Mumbai-Kolkata sectors and boost capacity on the New Delhi-Bengaluru and New Delhi-Bhopal routes with the introduction of the wide-body Airbus A330 and Boeing 737 services, respectively.

“Our summer schedule has been meticulously planned to meet the expected surge in demand over the holidays,” said Jayaraj Shanmugam, Chief Commercial Officer of Jet Airways.

“New flights, additional frequencies, greater capacity including the introduction of wide-body services across more sectors are meant to offer our discerning guests greater choice, convenience, connectivity and added comfort.”

The changes are part of Jet Airways’ summer schedule which will see the airline operate up to 650 flights per day connecting 65 destinations in India and abroad. (IANS)

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Rs 4,315-crore foreign investment proposal recommended from Gland Pharma

Apr 24, 2017 0

New Delhi– India’s Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) has recommended the Rs 4,315-crore investment proposal of Gland Pharma Ltd to the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) for approval, an official statement said on Monday.

“Gland Pharma Ltd, a brownfield pharmaceutical Indian company, is seeking approval for its initial acquisition of up to 86.08 per cent by Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical (Group) Company Ltd, a publicly-listed company incorporated in China,” a Finance Ministry statement here said.

“Subsequently, Fosun also has the contractual right to acquire 100 per cent shares of Gland Pharma from other shareholders of the company in one or more tranches,” it added.

The FIPB, at its meeting here last month, deferred a decision on the foreign direct investment (FDI) proposal of Vodafone Mobile Services, the Ministry said.

The other proposals on which decision was deferred include investment proposals of Sistema Shyam TeleServices Limited, Datawind Innovations Private Limited, HSBC Securities and Capital Markets (India) Private Limited and G4S Secure Solutions (India) Private Limited.A

The FIPB approved six proposals involving FDI of Rs 84.69 crore, while rejecting five proposals.

Proposals approved by the FIPB include one of Rs 65-crore by PMC Group International, and by Crown Cement Manufacturing India Pvt Ltd worth Rs 15.51 crore, while the investment applications of PERI India Pvt Ltd, Limpkin Telecom Private Limited, LS Cable India Private Ltd, Maxaim Network Private Ltd, and Xerox India Ltd have been rejected, the release said. (IANS)

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HCL to acquire US-based mortgage fulfillment service provider for $30 million

Apr 24, 2017 0

Noida– Information Technology giant HCL on Monday announced that it will acquire mortgage business process & fulfilment services provider Urban Fulfillment Services (UFS) for nearly $30 million with 100 per cent stake.

With over 350 professionals, UFS operates out of three centres in the US.

“The acquisition of Urban Fulfillment Services strengthens HCL’s capabilities in mortgage BPO services, loan fulfillment and debt servicing space,” Anoop Tiwari, Corporate Vice President and Global Head-Business Services at HCL Technologies, said in a statement.

The total cash consideration for this transaction is up to $30 million, including contingent payments subject to certain financial milestones.

Mortgage servicing is a regulated activity in the US and the transaction would require regulatory approvals for obtaining the licenses, the company said.

“The synergies between UFS’ client focused and efficient business processing services and HCL’s technology leadership and financial strength will create an unparalleled competitor and leading provider of state-of-the-art services to the enterprise customers,” added Charles S Sanders, CEO of Urban Lending Solutions. (IANS)

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42% of CEOs have begun digital transformation: Gartner

Apr 24, 2017 0

New Delhi– Product improvement and technology are the biggest rising priorities for CEOs in 2017 and 42 per cent of them have begun digital business transformation, market research firm Gartner said on Monday.

According to the survey, growth is the top business priority for 58 per cent of CEOs, which is up from 42 per cent in 2016.

“Forty seven percent of CEOs are being challenged by the board of directors to make progress in digital business, and 56 percent said that their digital improvements have already improved profits,” said Mark Raskino, Vice President and Gartner Fellow in a statement.

Twenty two percent are taking digital to the core of their enterprise models. That’s where the product, service and business model are being changed and the new digital capabilities that support those are becoming core competencies, Raskino added.

Although more CEOs have digital ambitions, the survey revealed that nearly half of CEOs have no digital transformation success metric.

“It is time for CEOs to scale up their digital business ambition and let CIOs help them set and track incisive success metrics and KPIs, to better direct business transformation. CIOs should also help them toward more abstract thinking about the nature of digital business change and how to lead it,” Raskino said.

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