MIT’s World Real Estate Forum Attracts Several Key Indian Players on Friday

May 17, 2017 0

CAMBRIDGE, MA—MIT Center for Real Estate is hosting its annual World Real Estate Forum this Friday, May 19, and has attracted several key Indian players, including Anita Arjundas, Managing Director & CEO, Mahindra Lifespace Developers Ltd and Rajeev Piramal, Executive Vice-Chairman & Managing Director, Peninsula Land.

Anita Arjundas

Other speakers include include Ajay Prasad, Managing Director – India, Taurus Investment Holdings; Shashi Tharoor, Lok Sabha Member of Parliament, and Chairman, Parliamentary Standing Committee on External Affairs; and Raja Seetharaman, Director, Propstack.

“India is expected to have the world’s fastest growing economy in 2017,” say organizers of the conference. “Find out what this means for the future of Indian real estate, and hear from leading developers, investors and influencers about their strategy for the future.”

The two-day conference (May 18-19) is being held at MIT Media Lab, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 75 Amherst St., Cambridge, MA 02139.

Here is the schedule of panels:

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Mukesh Ambani on top of Forbes’ Global Game Changers

May 17, 2017 0

New York– Forbes magazine has named Reliance Industries (RIL) Chairman Mukesh Ambani as the topmost among its “Global Game Changers” who are transforming their industries and changing the lives of billions around the world.

Ambani features at the top of the Forbes’ second annual Global Game Changers’ list of 25 “intrepid business leaders unsatisfied with the status quo” who are “transforming their industries and changing the lives of billions of people around the globe.”

The American magazine referred to the Ambani-led Reliance Jio mobile network’s efforts to spread internet penetration in India.

Mukesh Ambani

“Oil and gas tycoon entered the country’s telecom market with a bang, offering fast internet at dirt-cheap prices. Gained 100 million customers in six months and set off a wave of consolidation in the market,” Forbes said.

“While plenty of corporate functionaries make headlines for successful turnarounds or record profits, we sought to identify true movers and shakers who are determining the course of the future for more than just their own shareholders or employees,” it said.

Forbes said those on the latest game changers’ list are re-imagining the many facets of everyday life, from health to money transfers through digital means.

The list includes home appliances company Dyson’s founder James Dyson, US investment management company BlackRock co-founder Larry Fink, Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, social media platform Snap co-founder Evan Spiegel and Chinese ride-sharing giant Didi Chuxing founder Cheng Wei. (IANS)

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61 percent people satisfied with Modi’s 3 years, want faster progress in key areas: Survey

May 16, 2017 0

New Delhi– Sixty-one per cent of some 200,000 citizens surveyed across the country say they are satisfied with the performance of the Narendra Modi government as it completes three years in office. This is, however, down from the 68 per cent approval after its first year and 64 percent approval after its second year.

Forty-four per cent of the respondents in the two-week survey by Local Circles citizen’s engagement platform said the government had met their expectations while 17 per cent said their expectations had been exceeded.

Around 59 per cent of the citizens polled believed that the government will fulfil the promises made in its pre-election manifesto.

Narendra Modi

Conversely, dissatisfaction has also risen — last year only 36 per cent citizens said the government’s performance was below expectation. This has gone up to 39 per cent in the third year.

The survey also found that the government has been able to better handle Parliament and opposition benches therein during its third year: 65 per cent said the government has effectively handled Parliament and delivered on key bills, like the one on GST.

At the same time, individual MPs still remain disconnected from their constituencies, the survey found. Around 69 per cent of the citizens polled said that their local MP is not engaged with the constituency.

Around 66 per cent of the citizens believe that the price of essential commodities and cost of living have gone up. This is in spite of the fact that inflation has come down to 3 per cent.

A massive 60 per cent citizens believe that crimes against women and children have not come down. This is up from 38 per cent last year, a substantial rise. While police is not a central government subject, perception about safety is linked to the central government, the survey found.

Though the Swachh Survekshan 2017 released recently reported that 75-80 per cent citizens find their cities cleaner, only 35 per cent agreed when asked whether their city had become cleaner in the last three years due to the Swachh Bharat Mission.

The general perception among 47 per cent citizens is that corruption has reduced in the last 3 years whereas 43 per cent believe that it had not reduced at all.

Asked if corruption has reduced as a result of demonetisation, only 39 per cent agreed. However, 51 per cent agreed when asked if the demonetisation exercise was successful in cracking down on black money.

A massive 81 per cent citizens feel that India’s image and influence in the world has improved under the government in the last 3 years.

Citizens were also asked if they approved of the way the government has handled Pakistan during the last three years, with around 64 per cent agreeing. (IANS)

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CBI raids Chidambaram’s residences

May 16, 2017 0

Chennai/New Delhi–The CBI on Tuesday raided the residences of former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram and his son Karti in Chennai, Delhi and various other places alleging he could have benefited to the tune of Rs 3.5 crore for helping in the clearance of an FIPB proposal of media company INX Ltd when his father was at the helm in the North Block.

The raids that began at 6 a.m. and continued till 1.30 p.m. took place after the Central Bureau of Investigation agency filed an FIR alleging that Karti’s invoices for approximately Rs 3.5 crore were raised in favour of INX group in the name of other companies in which he was having “sustainable interests” either directly or indirectly.

The raids were conducted at their residence in Nungambakam in Chennai and hometown Karaikudi in Tamil Nadu.

The FIPB clearance was given to Mumbai-based INX Media (now called 9X Media) when it was run by Peter and Indrani Mukherjea, and Chidambaram was then the Finance Minister.

The FIR does not mention the name of Chidambaram, though it states that he had cleared the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) approval for Rs 4.62 crore Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the FIPB meeting on May 18, 2007.

Both Chidambaram and his son denied there was any misconduct on their part and said the whole action was aimed at “muzzling” the voice of Chidambaram senior, who has been writing against the NDA government.

Karti said he had committed no crime and the case against him was foisted on account of political vendetta.

Chidambaram said FIPB clearance is given in hundreds of cases and there is no allegation against officials, who are members of the FIPB, or against him.

Besides Karti, those named in the FIR include INX Director Indrani Mukherjea and her husband Peter Mukherjea, both accused in the Sheena Bora murder case, and some unknown officials of the ministry.

However, the CBI said it found that INX made a downstream investment to the extent of 26 per cent in capital without the specific approval of FIPB, which included indirect foreign investment by the same foreign investors and generated more than Rs 305 crore.

P. Chidambaram

The FIPB unit in the ministry had clearly stated that for downstream investment in INX, a separate FIPB approval was required.

Following a complaint filed in this matter and the FIPB seeking clarifications from it, the company entered into a criminal conspiracy with Karti, Promoter Director of Chennai-based Chess Management Services Pvt Ltd, so as to get issues resolved/addressed amicably by influencing the public servants of the FIPB unit by virtue of his relationship with the then Finance Minister, the FIR alleged.

The FIR also claimed that the INX group in its record has clearly mentioned the purpose of payment of Rs 10 lakh to Advantage Strategic Consulting (P) as towards “Management consultancy charges towards FIPB notification and clarification”.

Separate CBI teams conducted searches at more than ten places in Tamil Nadu, besides carrying out over a dozen raids in Delhi, Mumbai and Haryana’s Gurugram, including the residences of those persons mentioned in the FIR.

In Gurugram, CBI raided the office of Chess Management Services Private Limited, located in JMD Mehapolis business center on Sohna road in sector 48.

The CBI has registered the case under offences of criminal conspiracy, cheating, taking gratification by corrupt or illegal means, influencing public servants and criminal misconduct.

It said that the concerned officials of the FIPB by virtue of the influence exercised over them by Karti, not only ignored the serious illegality on the part of INX but also deliberately embarked on showing undue favours to the company.

“Such deceitful and fallacious proposal was favourably considered by the Finance Ministry officials and approved by the then Finance Minister,” the agency said in the FIR.

After the raid at his residence, Karti was seen getting into a vehicle along with CBI officials, who then took him to his office also located in Nungambakkam.

At the end of the raids, which lasted for over seven hours, Karti told mediapersons that “they have not found anything at my residence and they have found nothing against me. It is politically motivated act.”

“They have taken this action to malign my father’s name.”

“I will give a detailed statement later,” Karti said before being driven out of his residence.

At his office, the CBI reportedly seized some documents. (IANS)

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Ransomware attack had ‘nearly zero’ impact in India

May 15, 2017 0

New Delhi–Trying to instil confidence among people, Electronics and Information Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Monday said the ongoing cyber attack by ransomware virus ‘WannaCrypt’ had nearly zero impact in India.

“We are strengthening our cyber security. After talking to Microsoft, we had asked people to install patch system in March. This ongoing attack not only had minimum, but nearly zero per cent impact, in India. We are strengthening our areas,” the minister told India TV in Hindi at its conclave “Samvaad”.

On March 14 this year, Microsoft released a security update which addressed the vulnerability in the 16-year-old Windows XP operating system that the hackers behind the massive ransomware attack exploited and created havoc in 150 countries.

Ravi Shankar Prasad

After infecting over two lakh computers in several countries, the global virus attack continued for the third day on Monday, with more reports of hacking pouring in from India, China and Japan as offices re-opened after a tumultuous weekend. The ransomware locks up the computer with the group which carried out the attack asking for $300 payment in bitcoins to send an unlock key.

The virus attacks the system after a person, whose computer has not been protected, opens up an unsuspecting mail, often from people known to him or her.

In Kerala, computers of two village panchayats were hit, with messages demanding $300 in virtual currency to unlock the files.

Officials who opened the computer at the Thariyode panchayat office in the hilly district of Wayanad found that four of their computers had been hacked.

Likewise, another village panchayat at Aruvapulam near Konni in Pathanamthitta district got a similar virus message when their computer was switched on. IT experts were working on these systems.

In West Bengal’s West Midnapore district, at least eight computers of the state-run electricity distributor were affected. Experts were ascertaining whether it was the same malware virus behind the world’s biggest ransomware attack.

The government on Sunday said it has activated a “preparedness and response mechanism” to prevent any major cyber damage from the ransomware.

According to the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), it has activated a “preparedness and response mechanism” by instructing CERT-IN (Computer Emergency Response Team) to gather “all the information of the reported ransomware”.

“MeitY has initiated contact with relevant stakeholders in public and private sector to ‘patch’ their systems as prescribed in the advisory issued by CERT-IN. MeitY has also requested Microsoft India to inform all their partners and customers to apply relevant patches,” the ministry said in a statement.

On May 13, CERT-IN had issued an advisory for both reactive and preventive actions to deal with the ransomware. (IANS)

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United Nations appoints Indian to high-level UN climate change post

May 15, 2017 0

By Arul Louis

United Nations–United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres has appointed Ovais Sarmad of India as the Deputy Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the forum where the historic Paris Agreement on Climate Change was negotiated.

Sarmad’s appointment comes as the Paris Agreement faces a potential crisis if the US goes through with President Donald Trump’s threat to disown it.

Stephane Djuarric, the spokesperson for Guterres, said Monday that Sarmad’s position will be at the Assistant Secretary-General level.

Ovais Sarmad, the chief of staff of the International Organisation for Migration, has been appointed by United Nations Secretary-General as the Deputy Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the international negotiations forum for agreements to combat climate change. Sarmad, who is from India, is a graduate of Osmania University in Hyderabad. (Photo credit: IOM/via IANS)

The highest ranking Indian in the UN bureaucracy is Atul Khare, the Under-Secretary-General, Department of Field Support, who plays a crucial role in the peacekeeping operations.

Sarmad is currently the Chief of Staff to the Director General of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), the UN body that deals with international international migration issues and assists migrants as well as governments.

Djuarric said that Sarmad “was a key team member negotiating the agreement” that led to the US joining the IOM.

Now Sarmad’s diplomatic skills may be called upon as the landmark Paris Agreement is at risk of being reneged by its most important party, the US, which is the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming.

A 1982 commerce graduate of Osmania University in Hyderabad, he has a chartered management accountancy qualification from London and is an expert in finance and management.

After a career in public and private sectors in London, Sarmad joined IOM in Geneva in 1990.

During his 27-year career at the IOM, he has also worked as Chief of Budget, Director of Resource Management, Director of the Global Administrative Centre and Chief of Mission to the Philippines.

He succeeds Richard Kinley of Canada. The UNFCC is headed by Patricia Espinosa, the Executive Director appointed by then Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon last year. (IANS)

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No extradition proceedings against Lalit Modi even after six years

May 14, 2017 0

By Sidhartha Dutta

New Delhi– Indian security agencies may be pursuing former IPL Chairman Lalit Modi, now in London, but they are yet to submit a formal extradition request to the External Affairs Ministry.

The ministry admitted to IANS in response to an RTI query that it was yet to get a formal extradition request without which it cannot make any request to the United Kingdom to send Lalit Modi back to India.

“The ministry is yet to receive a formal extradition request in respect of Lalit Modi from the concerned investigating agency in India,” said the April 11 reply to the Right to Information query.

A later April 28 RTI reply from the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which got a communication from the External Affairs Ministry, said it was not bound by RTI rules to reveal any information.

Former IPL Chairman Lalit Modi (Photo courtesy: India Today)

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) is pursuing 17 cases of alleged financial impropriety against Modi and other former office-bearers of the Board of Control for Cricket In India-Indian Premier League (BCCI-IPL) under the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) and the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

The amount involved is said to be a whopping Rs 2,200 crore.

Modi left India in 2010 following alleged financial irregularities in the cash-rich Indian Premier League’s 2009 season.

Asked about the delay in sending extradition request to the UK, an ED official said: “Before sending extradition request against the fugitive, it is necessary to file a chargesheet against him; that is yet to be submitted in court.”

In the past six years, the Tamil Nadu Police in Chennai have not completed the investigations and, therefore, no chargesheet has been filed against Modi.

Despite a special Mumbai court’s April 2016 order to the ED to expedite Modi’s extradition process, the agency has not submitted evidences to Interpol to enable it to issue a Red Corner Notice against him.

In March, Interpol declined a “premature” Indian request for a Red Corner Notice to seek his arrest and extradition as a probe against him in India hadn’t concluded.

Interpol said a Red Corner Notice could be issued against an individual “only when sufficient judicial data is provided” with summary of facts and “a clear description of the criminal activities of the wanted person with time and location of the activity and charges”.

In Modi’s case, Interpol said, no charges have been established as yet.

The CBI, the Indian nodal agency for Interpol, on August 20, 2015, forwarded the ED’s request to Interpol to issue a Red Corner Notice against Modi.

Interpol authorities have sought additional information from the ED on their money laundering case against Modi as part of the process to issue such a global warrant against him.

The ED registered the case against Modi in December 2012 on the basis of a complaint filed by former BCCI chief N. Srinivasan with Chennai police in October 2010, alleging Modi and others embezzled money in the award of BCCI-IPL cricketing media rights in 2009.

Modi, now banned for life by the Indian cricket board for alleged corruption and misuse of power, was once a powerful man in the BCCI. He founded of IPL — the franchise-based T20 league involving domestic and foreign players. IPL matches were formally launched in 2008. (IANS)

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Social Enterprise “Second Chance” Wins TiE Boston’s TYE Business Competition

May 12, 2017 0

CAMBRIDGE, MA – TiE Boston, the second-biggest and oldest chapter of the TiE-Global, announced that Second Chance, a social enterprise that helps train the currently incarcerated to successfully enter the workforce, is the winner of the 2017 TYE Business Competition.  The second and third place went to Brite Barrel and Checkups4All, respectively.

Second Chance will represent TiE Boston at the TYE Finals later this year. Teams from up to 26 chapters across the globe will go to California to compete in the 2017 TYE Global Final. Over 20 teams are expected to participate and present at the Applied Innovation Center at UC-Irvine. Last year, the winning teams walked away with seed awards totaling $11,000 at the 2016 Global Finals.

First place winner Second Chance team (Photo: TiE Boston)

This year saw the rise of social entrepreneurship with the three winning teams each startup having a clear social mission. Along with “Second Chance,” the second place winner,“Brite Barrel,” and third place winner, “Checkups4All,” each set out to leverage their talent and resources to make the world a more equitable place for all, TiE Boston said in a statement. TYE announces three winning teams each year and they are awarded a cash grant to either be used as seed funding to launch their startup or to fund their college education.

2nd Place Winner Brite Barrel (Photo: TiE Boston)

TiE Boston will hold an TYE Open House for interested parents and students at 6:00 pm on June 5th at the headquarters of Constant Contact, located at 1601 Trapelo Road in Waltham, MA.

TiE Boston statement said that with the sobering statistic of 77.6 percent of those released from prison will serve a second prison sentence, “Second Chance” is a social enterprise that helps train the currently incarcerated to successfully enter the workforce.

Third Place CheckUps for All (Photo: TiE Boston)

“First, current inmates are matched with a skilled or semi-skilled position through a ‘Second Chance’ partnership with a large company. As inmates now have a job waiting for them upon release, they can engage through the ‘Second Chance’ e-learning platform to prepare for the position,” the statement said. “Leaving prison, individuals are well-trained and prepared to enter these positions, thus eliminating the need to commit a crime to cover basic needs.”

TYE (TiE Young Entrepreneurs) is a youth entrepreneurship program for high school age students develop their business skills, confidence, leadership, problem solving, public speaking and ability to multitask through the creation of a startup. In its 13th year, this award-winning program for high school students was created to prepare the next generation of entrepreneurs for success.

Pallavi Singh

“It has been incredible to see how young adults who have grown up watching ‘Shark Tank’ can use that exposure and our curriculum to come up with some awesome business ideas!  I’m blown away each year when I watch final pitches,” said Pallavi Singh, TYE Program Chair and champion for entrepreneurial youth. “The problem solving skills we teach our students will help them through college and beyond.”

Developed and launched by TiE Boston in 2005, TYE has grown to be a global youth empowerment and education curriculum taught in 26 chapters throughout the globe.

“As someone who has been involved with the TYE program for 7 years as a program coordinator, I have seen over 300 students come through the program, including two of my own children. I can say that this program provides an in-depth view of a entrepreneurial life cycle along with some critical life skills,” said Suneha Kamdiwan, a long-time volunteer and a parent of the winning team. “It is an exhilarating experience to watch each batch of students go through the program. Entering unsure and inquisitive, to transforming into an individual ready to take on new challenges, it has been my greatest pleasure to see TYE alumni move on to start their own companies, organizations and taken initiatives that have made a real and positive difference.”

At the TYE Open House on June 5, TYE Program Manager Simone LaPray will walk through the program, answer questions and lead interested participants through a TYE leadership activity. Students are strongly encouraged to attend with their parents to find out more! To RSVP to the Open House, please send an email with a number of those attending to tieadmin@boston.tie.org. Refreshments will be provided.

Applications are open now at www.tye-boston.org.

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US slams Pakistan for deteriorating India ties

May 12, 2017 0

Washington–A top Trump administration official has slammed Pakistan for its failure to curb support to anti-India militants and sought progress into the 2016 Pathankot attack probe.

He has warned Islamabad that ties between the two countries would deteriorate if there is another “high-profile terrorist attack in India”.

Director of National Intelligence Daniel R. Coats, during a Congressional hearing, said: “Islamabad’s failure to curb support to anti-India militants and New Delhi’s growing intolerance of this policy, coupled with a perceived lack of progress in Pakistan’s investigations into the January 2016 Pathankot cross-border attack, set the stage for a deterioration of bilateral relations in 2016.”

Last year, Jaish-e-Mohamed militants attacked the Indian airbase in Pathankot on January 2 and killed seven security personnel.

Coats said easing of heightened Indo-Pakistani tension, including negotiations to renew official dialogue, will hinge in 2017 on a sharp and sustained reduction of cross-border attacks by terrorist groups based in Pakistan and progress in Pathankot investigation.

Daniel R. Coats

Testifying before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence along with key intelligence officials on Thursday, Coats said that New Delhi-Islamabad relations remain tense following two major terrorist attacks in 2016 by militants crossing into India from Pakistan.

“They might deteriorate further in 2017, especially in the event of another high-profile terrorist attack in India that New Delhi attributes to originating in or receiving assistance from Pakistan,” Coats said as he presented worldwide threat assessment of the intelligence community.

The director of National Intelligence further said: “Increasing numbers of firefights along the Line of Control (LoC), including the use of artillery and mortars, might exacerbate the risk of unintended escalation between these nuclear-armed neighbours.”

Coats said that Pakistani-based terrorist groups present a sustained threat to US interests in the region and continue to plan and conduct attacks in India and Afghanistan.

“The threat to the US and the West from Pakistani-based terrorist groups will be persistent but diffuse. Plotting against the US homeland will be conducted on a more opportunistic basis or driven by individual members within these groups,” he said.

Noting that Pakistan will probably be able to manage its internal security, Coats said anti-Pakistan groups will probably focus more on soft targets.

“The groups we judge will pose the greatest threat to Pakistan’s internal security include Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan, Jamaat ul-Ahrar, Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent, ISIS-K, Laskhar-e-Jhangvi, and Lashkar-e Jhangvi al-Alami,” he said.

Coats said that the emerging China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) will probably offer militants and terrorists additional targets.

On Pakistan’s pursuit of tactical nuclear weapons, Coats said it “potentially lowers the threshold for their use”.

Early deployment during a crisis of smaller, more mobile nuclear weapons would increase the time when “systems would be outside the relative security of a storage site”, thus “increasing the risk that a coordinated attack by non-state actors might succeed in capturing a complete nuclear weapon,” Coats said. (IANS)

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India passing through biggest technological revolution

May 11, 2017 0

New Delhi– India is passing through the biggest technological revolution which will make data analytics critical for delivery of services to the people, NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant said on Thursday.

Leakages in government schemes are now vanishing and in due course all benefits provided by the government will go straight to the intended beneficiary’s account, he said at an event here.

Addressing an interactive meeting organised by industry body FICCI, Kant enumerated the various initiatives of the government to change the 19th century mindsets and move into the 21st century through vast and transformative decisions.

The government has leveraged technology to link up all states with the Centre through ‘PRAGATI’ (Pro-Active Governance and Timely Implementation), an integrative and interactive platform for addressing the common man’s grievances and monitoring important programmes and projects, the NITI Aayog CEO said.

Under this initiative, the Prime Minister links up with all Chief Secretaries of states and Indian Ambassadors overseas to monitor projects online once every fortnight.

Niti Aayog Chief Executive Amitabh Kant

This initiative, he added, was breaking all walls between the states and the Centre.

He said the government has moved away from inputs and processes to focus on outcome targets of various ministries.

Outcomes are now monitored regularly through a dashboard, an IT user interface, created by NITI Aayog.

Any deviations from the assigned outcome targets are brought to the notice of the PMO, which then suggests appropriate remedial steps, Kant said at the interactive meeting on “The Business of Government: Learnings from Global Experiences” organised with the support of NITI Aayog, Bharti Institute of Public Policy of Indian School of Business (ISB) and the IBM Centre for The Business of Government.

The quiet administrative revolution that has been taking place in the country will receive a shot in the arm by the increasing use of digital technology which in turn will give a fillip to growth, Kant said. (IANS)

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