Thursday, April 20, 2017

At Annual "performance appraisal", Wipro Fires Over 600 Employees

The country's third largest software services firm Wipro is learnt to have fired hundreds of employees as part of its annual "performance appraisal".

According to sources, Wipro has shown the door to about 600 employees, while speculation was rife that the number could go as high as 2,000.

At the end of December 2016, the Bengaluru-based company had over 1.79 lakh employees. 

When contacted, Wipro said it undertakes a "rigorous performance appraisal process" on a regular basis to align its workforce with business objectives, strategic priorities of the company, and client requirements.

"The performance appraisal may also lead to the separation of some employees from the company and these numbers vary from year to year," it added.

The company, however, did not comment on the number of employees that have been asked to leave.

Wipro said its comprehensive performance evaluation process includes mentoring, re-training and upskilling of employees. The company is scheduled to report its fourth quarter and full-year numbers on April 25.

The development comes at a time when Indian IT companies are facing an uncertain environment given the curbs being proposed on worker visa norms by various countries like the US, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand.

These companies use temporary work visas to send employees to work on client sites.

With visa programmes in these countries becoming more rigorous, Indian IT companies are likely to face challenges in movement of labour as well as a spike in operational costs.

Indian IT companies get over 60 per cent of their revenues from the North American market, about 20 per cent from Europe and the remaining from other economies.

Besides, higher adoption of technologies like automation and artificial in also reducing the need to have a large number of employees at client site.

Shoppers Stop & ToneTag Partners for Sound-Based Contactless Payments

Following in the footsteps of Digital India mission, leading fashion retailer, Shoppers Stop has partnered ToneTag, a proximity communications firm, to integrate and deploy ToneTag sound-based contactless payments at its stores. This technology will use sound-waves from mobile phones to enable customers to make ‘cardless’, ‘cashless’ and ‘contactless’ payments at all 84 Shopper Stop stores spread across the country.

“Our collaboration with ToneTag is yet another step in the direction of digitising all our Shoppers Stop stores. Our paramount focus is to offer our customers a convenient, fast and enhanced shopping experience. With ToneTag’s sound-based technology, our customers will now have multiple payment options for a smooth, fast and convenient shopping experience,” said Govind Shrikhande, Customer Care Associate & Managing Director, Shoppers Stop Ltd.
With ToneTag’s sound pay technology, customers can make secure payments within a matter of seconds and experience a faster check out.
“Shoppers Stop’s contribution towards digitisation has been exemplary. I am a strong believer that Shoppers Stop and ToneTag will continue to strive for best consumer experience.
“Shoppers Stop’s contribution towards digitisation has been exemplary. I am a strong believer that Shoppers Stop and ToneTag will continue to strive for best consumer experience by bringing great retail technology with simple user interface,” said Kumar Abhishek, CEO, ToneTag.
ToneTag’s technology uses audio signals or ‘tone tags’ for data exchange between devices. Payment instructions can be transmitted, using a sound signal, through a traditional phone line, without any additional hardware or software requirements or dependencies. This makes highly inter-operable and secure cashless payments possible from any mobile phone to another phone or computing device.

Japanese Major SoftBank Likely to Invest $1.5 Billion in Paytm

If the discussions materialise, the deal could value the One97 Communications Ltd-owned company at $7-9 billion, the report says, citing three people aware of the matter.

As per the deal, SoftBank will not only buy some shares from existing Paytm investor SAIF Partners and founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma but would also be investing money in the company. The payments company may also buy out Snapdeal-owned mobile wallet firm FreeCharge in a “fire sale, though the fundraising is not contingent upon the proposed buyout,” the report added.

With SoftBank on board, Paytm could also be seeking a way to balance out the control of China’s Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, currently its largest shareholder. Interestingly, the Japanese company was an early backer of Alibaba and its initial investment of $20 million turned into a stake worth more than $60 billion when Alibaba listed its shares in 2014.

SoftBank has been re-strategizing its plans in India after its investments in the county failed to yield encouraging returns. With a total investment of over $3 billion in the country, 

SoftBank is now pushing mergers and acquisitions to consolidate its portfolio. The Japanese major has reportedly been spearheading the talks for a possible merger of Snapdeal with rival Flipkart.

Google’s ‘Areo’ App for Food Delivery & Home Services for Indian Market

Without much hullabaloo, Google has launched a new food delivery and home services aggregator called Areo for the Indian market. The Android application for hyperlocal delivery and home services provides users with one-touch access to restaurants, beauty salons, and other home maintenance or cleaning services.
The app that was first spotted by The Android Soul,  is available as a free download on the Google Play store and is currently operational in Bangalore and Mumbai.

For the food delivery service, Google presently has three startups on board to allow Indian masses to order food — Freshmenu, Scootsy, and HolaChef. Any of these will be available to serve you based on your location. As for the beauty, personal care, fitness, and home maintenance services, Google has got on board Urban Clap to lend a helping hand.

One can either search for any specific dish or choose any specific partner to browse through dishes and schedule deliveries by paying online or use cash on delivery. Notably, Google has partnered with TimesofMoney’s DirecPay for online payments on Areo rather than using its own payment solution.
The USP of the app is that its fast and the experience is a lot simpler than having to go through multiple apps in one’s smartphone.  Well, this could also be some bad news for other local delivery startups who have some new competition from tech titan itself.
Google has launched a couple of India-centric app in recent weeks. First, it debuted beta version of YouTube Go app in India and then of course the music streaming subscription packs on Google Play Music for as low as Rs 89/month.

SC Orders Auction of Sahara's Rs 34,000 Cr Aamby Valley Properties

Supreme Court has ordered auction of Sahara's Rs 34,000 crore Aamby Valley properties over the business conglomerate's failure to deposit money for refunding to its investors.

The Supreme Court bench also directed that Sahara Group's Subrata Roy be personally present in the next date of hearing on April 28th in the case.
"Enough is enough. You cannot say something today and resile tomorrow," a bench, comprising Justices Dipak Misra, Ranjan Gogoi and A K Sikri, said, taking strong note of non- submission of over Rs 5,000 crore by the Sahara group.

The bench also cautioned Roy from playing with the court's order and said non-compliance of its order would invite the wrath of the law and ultimately he will be at his own peril.  If you can't pay, go to jail, the top court said.

The Supreme Court had earlier warned the Sahara Group that it would auction its prime property worth Rs 39,000 crore at Aamby Valley in Pune if Rs 5092.6 crore is not paid by the company by April 17 as promised.

Last month, a bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra directed the international real estate firm, which had shown willingness to buy Sahara's stake in New York- based Plaza Hotel for $550 million, to deposit Rs 750 crore in the SEBI-Sahara refund account instead of the apex court registry to show its bonafide.

"We will auction your (Sahara) Aamby Valley project if the money is not deposited within the stipulated time period as promised," the bench, also comprising Justices Ranjan Gogoi and A K Sikri, observed.

The apex court had also asked Sahara Group to provide it within two weeks the list of "unencumbered properties" which can be put for public auction to realise the remaining over Rs 14,000 crore of the principal amount of around Rs 24,000 crore that has to be deposited in the SEBI-Sahara account for refunding money to the investors.

SC on May 6, 2016 granted a four-week parole to Roy to attend the funeral of his mother. His parole has been extended by the court ever since. Roy was sent to Tihar jail on March 4, 2014.

Besides Roy, two other directors -- Ravi Shankar Dubey and Ashok Roy Choudhary -- were arrested for the failure of the group's two companies -- Sahara India Real Estate Corporation (SIRECL) and Sahara Housing Investment Corp Ltd (SHICL) -- to comply with the court's August 31, 2012 order to return Rs 24,000 crore to their investors. However, director Vandana Bhargava was not taken into custody.

Akshaya Patra’s ‘Million Meals’ Project Uses Applied AI, IoT and Blockchain from Accenture to Drive Efficiency of Lunch Program



Accenture and Akshaya Patra, the world’s largest NGO-run Mid-Day Meal Program, collaborated on an innovative project that used disruptive technologies to exponentially increase the number of meals served to children in schools in India that are run and aided by the government. The “Million Meals” project revolutionized Akshaya Patra’s supply chain and operations, resulting in improved food quality and expanded service reach.

 
Rooted in a vision to eliminate child hunger, the “Million Meals” project demonstrated how disruptive technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT) and blockchain can help address significant challenges in mass meal production and delivery. Accenture Labs, the research and development arm of Accenture, executed the project over a period of six months in Akshaya Patra’s Bengaluru kitchen. An analysis of the project indicated a potential to improve efficiency by 20 percent, which could boost the number of meals served by millions. Akshaya Patra’s goal is to continue to optimize and streamline the program.
 
Sanjay Podder, managing director, Accenture Labs, Bengaluru, said, "The Accenture Labs ‘Tech for Good’ program specializes in solving complex social problems through the use of innovative technologies. Accenture Labs was excited to take up the challenge that every paisa saved in producing a single meal can result in additional meals being served to children. We thought this was an ideal proving ground to put the combined power of AI, IoT and blockchain to use.”
 
"It is indeed heartening to see big players in technology like Accenture come forward to lend their expertise and help to address societal challenges like hunger through the innovative use of technology,” said Shridhar Venkat, CEO, The Akshaya Patra Foundation. “This initiative not only enhanced efficiency while giving a boost to our operations, but ensured that quality standards are met while increasing the number of meals served. We aim to expand our reach to millions of more children with the help of such technologies. This is just the beginning; we look forward to more collaborations with Accenture.”
 
Accenture Labs began the project with a strategic assessment and design thinking, then developed a prototype for improving kitchen operations and outcomes. Technologies were then applied to four critical processes: collecting school feedback, tracking food delivery, measuring the quantity of food and supplies to be purchased, and monitoring meal production.
 
As a result of these process enhancements, Akshaya Patra improved their audit capabilities, attendance recording, invoice processing and payment, order and data collection, and food preparation operations, allowing for expanded production capabilities and establishing a blueprint for operating other kitchens.
 
An example of Akshaya Patra’s transformation was its move from manual collection of feedback from children and schools to a more efficient technology-based solution. Using blockchain and sensor-enabled devices, the technical team gathered feedback digitally, leveraging AI technologies to predict the next day’s meal requirements. The team tracked the timeliness of food delivered to each school involved in the initiative and collected the data using mobile devices and an Accenture-built system.

The team also used IoT sensors to monitor and sequence the cooking process to ensure optimum energy consumption and consistent food quality. This system not only aided in tracking kitchen performance but also provided accurate, real-time data to identify trends, make better informed decisions and save valuable time and effort.

Bosch Plans to Open 75 More BRIDGE Centres Across India

Bosch plans to take its skilling programme BRIDGE (Bosch’s Response to India’s Development and Growth through Employability Enhancement) from the present 125 centres across the country to 200 centres soon.

The short-term job-oriented training is targeted at employing the youth in the service industry. “Nearly 7,500 people have graduated from this (BRIDGE) skilling programme over four years, and we are planning to take these centres to 200 soon,” MD of Bosch and Bosch Group India President Soumitra Bhattacharya told reporters 

Bosch also wants to take the number to 10,000 from the present 7,500 people. 
While the programme intended at the manufacturing industry comes from a more long-term, hard-skills development perspective, it is more short-term soft-skills oriented for the service industry.

“Our long-term career-oriented training offered at the Bosch Vocational Center (BVC) has been Indianised over the years, and as of December 2016, around 3,500 individuals have passed out over these years,” he said, adding, “Bosch is committed to skilling well before Prime Minister started Skill India. We will continue doing it...we do it not just for us; we do it for society,” he said.

Also, over the past two years, the company has developed a new training programme that focuses on producing high-quality skilled artisans, such as carpentry and electrician, in India.

Bhattacharya said, “There are two training facilities in India — one in Bengaluru focused on carpentry, the other one in Nashik focused on electrician. We are planning to open one more in Pune, focusing on plumbing. We are also looking at good partners to create multipliers.”

Karnataka Occupies Second Place in Terms of Internet Readiness

When it comes to Internet readiness, Karnataka ranks second, and it is also one of the top three states with the highest number of digital startups, according to a report, ‘Index of Internet Readiness of Indian States’, released by Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) and Nielsen. 

Delhi has emerged as the top ranked state in terms of overall Internet readiness, overtaking last year’s winner Maharashtra. 

Internet readiness index is a composite benchmark of four components — e-infrastructure index, e-participation index, IT-environment and government e-services index, with all four components claiming equal weightage.

The index excludes North-Eastern states, which ranked low in terms of overall Internet readiness. Among the North-Eastern states, Nagaland tops the list, closely followed by Manipur and Tripura.

Agencies

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

K Birla is New Chairperson of Vodafone India-Idea Merge Entity


Idea Cellular Ltd and Vodafone India announced a merger on March 20 to form the largest telecommunication company in IndiaThe behemoth will come as the latest company to enter the telecommunication sector after Jio, which is fast increasing its subscriber base.

The entity, after the merger, will not only have 43 per cent revenue but also have more than 25 per cent of allocated spectrum. The merged company would have collective revenues of more than Rs 80,000 crore and help Vodafone in de-consolidating Vodafone India.
The behemoth will come as the latest company to enter the telecommunication sector after Jio, which is fast increasing its subscriber base.
After their merger, the firms announced Kumar Mangalam Birla as the chairperson of the new telecom entity.
The Bombay Stock Exchange was also informed that Vodafone Group and Idea Cellular have agreed to combine their operations in India.
Meanwhile, largest mobile provider, Bharti Airtel, told the stock exchanges recently that it was all set to take over Norwegian telecom firm, Telenor.

Moving Forward India to Become Major FDI Destination Soon Globally


India, with a young skilled work force, high growth rate and deregulation being undertaken by the government, is set to become an important destination for foreign investment, a former top US trade official has said.

"With the young skilled work force, its growth rate that is going to surpass China for the coming years as well as the market opening and deregulation undertaken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi will make this a really important destination for foreign investment," Wendy Cutler, who was the Acting Deputy US Trade Representative under Obama administration told a Washington audience yesterday.

Speaking at a panel discussion on the occasion of launch of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) Confidence Index, Cutler said, India under Modi has emerged as among the favourite destinations for foreign investors. For the second consecutive year, India appears in top 10 of the index. This year, it was placed at eighth spot as against ninth last year.

China has slipped to the third spot. Germany has now become the second top destination in the FDI Confidence Index after the US, which takes the fifth spot for the fifth year in a row. "Five of the top 10 countries are from Asia. There is a lot of optimism about investment opportunities in Asia, not only among Asian but also global investors as well. Clearly China and India seems to be the cause of this lot of optimism. India moved eighth on the index," she said.

Cutler said the optimism about investment in China "does not seem to be in line from what we are hearing" from not only the US business community but also the European business community as well. In her previous stint in the United States Trade Representative, she was responsible for the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement (TPP), US China trade relations and US India Trade Policy Forum.

"The investment climate is getting worse in China. Companies are facing a lot of restrictions in China, whether it be licensing or approval process or favourable treatment of domestic competitors or requirements to share technology. We are hearing from our companies that their optimism is declining," Cutler said.

Noting that the Chinese FDI in the US and vice versa should be watched closely, she said there is a growing concern that while the US and foreign companies are facing restrictions in China, there is a feeling that Chinese companies face few restrictions here in the US. "India on the other hand is moving towards becoming a favourite FDI destination," she said.

"When you loom at India, it is moving from a close market to an open market. The reforms that are being undertaken are perhaps not as ambitious as one would hope for. But under Prime Minister Modi, India is really under track towards opening," she said. Contrasting India, a little bit with China, Cutler said that China was really open to foreign direct investment.

"But we are seeing that trend going in a different direction," Cutler said. "The other thing that makes me think very favourably about India is that it does not face the same demographic challenges that many Asian countries face. India with most of its population under 40 offers a very attractive destination, coupled with the high skilled nature of the work force," she said. However, she said India is "one of the difficult countries" to negotiate. "So while all these developments are positive, they have a way to go here, but they are moving in the right direction," Cutler said.

Global Business Policy Council chairman Paul Laudicina said that India's youth population gives India wage price advantage over China. In China, average manufacturing wages have tripled between 2006 and 2015. "This is part of the reason that coupled with a robust growth, a huge internal market, Modi government's attempt to promote investment, the intention to abolish the foreign investment promotion board, access to the retail sector is being made more accessible. All of this makes India a robust environment," he said.

Infosys Pune Is World’s Largest Campus to Earn LEED Platinum Certification from US Green Building Council

Infosys has announced that it has been awarded the LEED EBOM (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design - Existing Building Operation & Maintenance) Platinum certification by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) for its entire Infosys Pune Phase-2 campus. LEED Platinum is the highest level of green rating for buildings and with this recognition, the Infosys Pune campus becomes the largest in the world to achieve this distinction.

The Infosys Pune campus started operations in 2004 and is spread across 114 acres in Hinjewadi Phase-2. The campus consists of office buildings, residential training facilities, food courts, health and fitness facilities, multi-level parking and can accommodate 34,000 people. In an attempt to make the campus sustainable and resource efficient, Infosys has been following a two pronged strategy since 2008 - designing new buildings to meet the highest efficiency standards, and implementing deep retrofits in old buildings to make them efficient.

In new construction category, three buildings in the Infosys Pune Phase–2 campus are certified with LEED Platinum rating. For existing buildings, efficiency improvements were achieved through large-scale retrofit projects in 10 office buildings, three food courts, the employee training center, the guest house and sports complexes across the campus. Deep retrofits were undertaken in many energy intensive areas, including complete reengineering of chiller plants, air handling units, building management system (BMS) retrofit, UPS retrofit, lighting retrofit, to name a few, and were completed within a short duration. These initiatives have helped significantly lower operating costs, enhanced equipment life, created healthier indoor air quality, and improved occupant comfort and satisfaction.

The LEED EBOM certification by USGBC is a globally accepted benchmark for design, construction and operation of high-performance existing green buildings. This is one of the stringent green rating tools for existing buildings which verifies that the building is performing sustainably.
 Key features of Infosys Pune Phase-2 campus are:
·         Energy efficiency: 47% reduction in per capita energy consumption in the last eight years
·         Water conservation: 38% reduction in per capita water consumption in the last eight years
·         77% green power used to meet electricity needs of the entire campus this year

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Google Unveils Re-Imagined Version of Its Free Earth Mapping Service

Google has launched a re-imagined version of its free Earth mapping service, weaving in storytelling and artificial intelligence and freeing it from apps.
“This is our gift to the world,” Google Earth director Rebecca Moore said while giving AFP an early look at the new version of the programme that lets people range the planet from the comfort of their computers, smartphones or tablets.
“It’s a product that speaks to our deepest values around education and making information available to people.”
A new ‘Voyager’ feature enables people digitally exploring the planet to be guided on interactive stories told by experts, boasting partners including BBC Earth, NASA, Sesame Street, and the Jane Goodall Institute.
Google artificial intelligence will be put to work for Earth users in the form of “knowledge cards” that let them dive deeper into online information about mountains, countries, landmarks or other places being virtually visited.
It will also make suggestions on other locations armchair explorers might be interested in exploring based on what they have searched in the past.
“This is the first time we have done this deep integration with the Google Knowledge Graph,” Earth engineering manager Sean Askay said.
“Everything Google knows about the world, you can know about the world.”
There is also a newly installed “Feeling Lucky?” feature for people who want to let the software suggest hidden gems such as Pemba Island off the Swahili coast or the Oodaira Hot Spring in Yamagata, Japan.
People can choose to fly around the world in Earth, using a 3—D button to see the Grand Canyon, Chateau Loire Valley and other stunning spots from any angles they wish.
“With the new Earth, we want to open up different lenses for you to see the world and learn a bit about how it all fits together; to open your mind with new stories while giving you a new perspective on the locations and experiences you cherish,” Earth product manager Gopal Shah said in a blog post.
Online explorers cruising the mobile version of Earth can also capture pictures on their travels, sending friends digital postcards.
New Earth was launched on Google’s Chrome and Android software, with versions tailored for Apple devices and other internet browsing software promised soon.
It’s the first time that Earth can be reached on a web browser instead of through applications installed on devices.
The move allows Google to tap into more powerful computing power at data centers in the internet “cloud” instead of relying on the capabilities of smartphones and other devices.

Hyatt Place Candolim, Goa & Hyatt Regency Chandigarh Bag HICSA 2017 Awards


At a well-attended award ceremony held in Mumbai for the Hotel Investment Conference-South Asia (HICSA), two Hyatt hotels have been recognized as best in their segment. Hyatt Place Goa/Candolim, emerged as the Best New Hotel of the Year in the upper mid-market hotels segment and Hyatt Regency Chandigarh won the Best Upscale Hotel award. The 13th edition of HICSA honored some of the most exemplary hotel brands in the South Asian region.

Commenting on the achievement, Kurt Straub, Vice President of Operations for India, Hyatt Hotels and Resorts India said, “We began our India journey in 1983 and have endeavored to be one of the most preferred hospitality brands in the country. We have always moved forward with this intent. It is an honor for Hyatt Place Goa/Candolim, and Hyatt Regency Chandigarh to have been recognized by HICSA this year. We take this opportunity to thank everyone who worked to make this happen. This achievement not only makes us proud, but also fuels our passion to work harder, and continue to care for our people and guests. Powered by the purpose of care, Hyatt works to create an environment for people, including its employees, where care and understanding go a long way in building great relationships.”

Hyatt Place Goa/Candolim is the third Hyatt-branded hotel to officially open in Goa, India. The hotel brings the Hyatt Place brand’s intuitive design, casual atmosphere and practical amenities to the Goa area. This is one of the five Hyatt Place hotels to open in India, others being Hyatt Place Hampi, Hyatt Place Pune/Hinjewadi, Hyatt Place Gurgaon/Udyog Vihar and the recently opened Hyatt Place Rameswaram. With 147 spacious guestrooms, Hyatt Place Goa/Candolim is ideally located in the heart of North Goa, and is near to Candolim Beach, Calangute Beach and Fort Aguada. It is also in close proximity of popular entertainment and nightlife destinations.

Hyatt Regency Chandigarh opened its doors for the guests in 2016. As part of the Hyatt Regency brand, it has been conceived to foster connections and serve as a dynamic, energizing space where guests can collaborate, share and find inspiration. The hotel is central to the city’s business hub and is part of a premium development that includes the Elante Mall and an office complex that houses key multi-national companies and diplomatic missions. The guests can choose from 211 rooms and rejuvenate at the year-round outdoor pool and fitness centre.

Hyatt’s presence in India is represented by Park Hyatt, Grand Hyatt, Hyatt Regency, Hyatt, Hyatt Place and Andaz. Each of the six brands provide a distinct experience for different traveler mindsets across 16 key cities in the country.

Solar Power Capacity Crosses 12 GW Added 5,525 MW Across India

India added 5,525 MW solar power generation capacity last fiscal, taking the total from this clean source to 12,288 MW. 

The country has abundant solar power potential which has been estimated to be 748 GW, New and Renewable Energy Minister Piyush Goyal stated in a written reply to Rajya Sabha .

It had achieved total cumulative solar power generation capacity of 6,763 MW in 2015-16. The capacity was 1,686 MW in 2012-13 which increased to 2,632 MW in 2013-14 and to 3,744 MW in 2014-15. 

In a separate reply, Goyal said the government has envisaged 4,800 MW from rooftop solar and 7,200 MW from large scale solar power projects in the country. 

India has plans to add 5,000 MW of rooftop solar and 10,000 MW from large scale solar power projects in the current fiscal, he said. 

Among states, Andhra Pradesh tops the chart with largest cumulative solar generation capacity of 1,867 MW as on March 31, 2017 followed by Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu at 1,812 MW and 1,691 MW respectively. 

Goyal said that in its submission to the United Nations Frame Work Convention on Climate Change on Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC), the government has said that India will achieve 40 per cent cumulative Electric power capacity from non-fossil fuel based energy resources by 2030. 


It will be done with the help of transfer of technology and low cost International Finance which includes Green Climate Fund, he said.

Unperturbed by Possible Changes to H-1B Visa Regime: TCS CEO


Unfazed by the possible changes to the H1-B visa regime, CEO of India’s IT major TCS Rajesh Gopinathan has said the current discourse on the issue in the US is driven by emotions rather than economy and the best way to tackle it is through greater engagement.
Gopinathan favoured a policy of engagement with various stake holders on the issue of H-1B visas in the US. He noted that the discourse is currently driven by emotions rather than economy. “The best way to tackle that is greater engagement. Because the way, sometimes, companies like us get characterised is very different from the reality of what we bring to the table,” Gopinathan said.
“Some of these engagements actually help get that message out also. People will understand us better for who we are, and I think engagement, communication and collaboration is the best way to deal with the political lack of understanding which comes. Democracy ought to deal with the emotional response that you see and you have to get over it and engage positively,” Gopinathan said.
He said the US has been a “very welcoming market” for the IT major and has provided it with a fair, open and competitive environment. “All said and done, the US has been a very welcoming market for us. So you keep aside the immediate issues, it’s been a market that has been fair, it has been an open, competitive environment,” Gopinathan told the agencies, exuding confidence that TCS would be able to successfully compete in any environment.
Gopinathan said TCS has competed and has won against the best in the country. “We have competed and we have won against the global best in this country, on equal footing. So, it has been a market that has helped us grow in confidence as we have gone,” he said but repeatedly refrained from having any complaint from the present system or the possibility of a new executive order that would adversely have an impact on his company’s performance due to any action by the Trump Administration on H-1B visas.
US President Donald Trump is set to sign an executive order that would tighten the process of issuing the H-1B visas and seek a review of the system for creating an “entirely new structure” for awarding these visas.
Gopinathan was appointed as the new CEO of TCS this January after his predecessor N Chandrasekaran was elevated to the post of Chairman of Tata Sons.
Responding to questions on a potential executive order or legislations being talked about lawmakers, Gopinathan asserted that there is no law currently in the US that is discriminatory. “There are many that are being discussed, which if they were to get passed, in their extreme form would be discriminatory. So we should actually give credence to the system here, that is, as I said, it is fair. It has been fair in the past, there is no reason for us to assume that it will not be fair in the future. So, let’s deal with what’s on the ground and let’s go step by step,” he said.
“More importantly, we have very active STEM education engagement in the US. We work with colleges, high school students, we reach out, we have touched close to 20,000 plus students already, and significantly we are accelerate that into what we call Ignite My Future Campaign. We just target to touch one million students all in the next five years,” he said.
Noting that the technology market is actually under supplied, he said the sheer demand of technical skills far outstrips the supply. “What we’ve been successful in India is to actually increase the world supply, often generating graduates way beyond what the governing systems actually provided. So we capitalised the emergence of a private sector education complex that served to provide us the talent required for our growth,” he said.

IESA Appoints Ashwini K Aggarwal & Anilkumar Muniswamy as New Chairman and Vice Chairman for 2017

India Electronics and Semiconductor Association (IESA), has announced Ashwini K Aggarwal, Director, Applied Materials, India as Chairman of the Board of Director and Executive Committee effective immediately. Ashwini succeeds K Krishna Moorthy, who will continue as an advisor to the board. Anilkumar Muniswamy is the new Vice Chairman with Rajesh Krishnan, VP, Memory Solutions, Samsung Semiconductor India Research serving as the new Treasurer.

Ashwini joined IESA’s board in 2015. Prior to being named Chairman, he served as member of the board of Electronics Sector Skills Council and member/chair of various industry Special Interest Groups.

A veteran of the electronics industry for more than three decades, Aggarwal, is known for his global business, industry and operational expertise. He spent eighteen years as an executive at Hewlett- Packard Company, in various capacities including Country Sales, Country Marketing and Product Management. Aggarwal currently is the Director-Government Affairs at Applied Materials India and has been working on various industry enabling projects.

Speaking about his current role at IESA, Ashwini Aggarwal, Chairman, IESA said, “As a member of the IESA board, I have been inspired by the association’s ability to push the boundaries of industry networking, create enabling innovations and policies that drive the Indian Electronics Systems and Design ecosystem forward.” He further added, “I am honored to serve as Chairman and would like to thank Krishna Moorthy for his many contributions to IESA and the Indian ESDM industry during a benchmark performance year.”

“Ashwini brings deep knowledge of the high value electronics industry, as well as strong industry and governance experience, to lead the board during one of the most exciting periods of innovation and growth in our industry’s history”, said M N Vidyashankar, President, IESA.

“Our priorities this year will be to consolidate the increasing traction on Make in India, nurture the emerging green shoots of the startups and entrepreneurs and build on ground activation for talent development and innovation,” shared Ashwini. “We look forward to working with the Central and State governments, our industry members, entrepreneurs and other relevant stakeholders in India and abroad- to bring India on the radar of being a manufacturing hub at a global level,” added Ashwini Aggarwal.
The IESA Executive Council will also see the appointment of three new members; Vivek Sharma, Managing Director, STMicroelectronics; Jitendra Chaddah, Director, Operations and Strategic Relations, Intel India and Rajeev Khushu, Director, Corporate Affairs of Texas Instruments.  A team of 12 senior Industry leaders will collectively work to deliver on-ground activation for enabling innovation, investment and industry.
IESA has been instrumental in working with the central and state governments to bring out favorable policies to enable Indian electronics and semiconductor sector by driving numerous initiatives to bring awareness in the policy makers and working closely with them to help the industry overcome impediments for growth. IESA has also been aggressively working towards new government initiatives like ‘Make in India’, ‘Start-up India’ and ‘Digital India’ and has given valuable consultations to international companies who have shown interest to set-up electronics facilities in India. The executive council will continue working towards achieving the vision laid down collectively by the association member community.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Axis Bank Reaches One Million Micro-Borrowers Mark Across India

Axis Bank has touched 1 million micro-borrowers mark and is not keen on acquiring stake in any microlender.
Three years after getting into the segment, the bank hs touched 1 million borrowers mark recently and all of them are women who have availed themselves of credit through the joint lending group model, Axis Bank’s retail banking head Rajiv Anand told the agencies.
Stating that the lending book stands at Rs. 1,100 crore now, he hinted that the bank will focus on expanding the business organically rather than buying into a microfinance company.
“As of now, we don’t believe there is any need for us to take on any equity stake in an MFI,” Anand said.
It can be noted that other lenders like Kotak Mahindra Bank and IDFC Bank have acquired stakes in MFIs, while IndusInd Bank is in talks with Bharat Financial (formerly SKS) for what can be one of the biggest acquisitions in the space.
As many as 90 per cent of Axis Bank’s borrowers have been tapped by the bank’s dedicated team of 1,600 people, while the rest have come from intermediaries, Anand said.
The average ticket size of its micro loans is Rs. 18,000 and there is a three-tier rate structure with interest ranging from 12 to 22 per cent, he said, asserting that this is a “profitable” business for the bank.
Axis Bank is present in 18 states with its microlending offerings and aims to reach 22 states by 2020.
Even as the bank faces regulatory action for alleged irregularities during the note-ban period, Anand said he is “proud” of the work done by his retail banking staff.
Anand said the average transactions jumped four times that of the usual during the period, and the bank also had to work with the rules getting changed almost every day .
Asserting that Axis Bank is not the only one to have been found of indulging in irregularities, Anand admitted that “there have been a few stray incidents and we have a zero tolerance on such issues. Strictest action has been taken against all those indulged in irregularities.”
He also said that speculation of the bank merging with another one does not have any bearing on its expansion strategies, underlining that such talk has been denied.
Even as the advent of digital banking raises concerns on the relevance of the network-led model, Anand said 90 per cent of customers for the banking system do not use digital alternatives.
He said physical networks are important from a brand trust perspective and that the nature of the work undertaken at the branches can undergo a change eventually.

Indian Govt Permits 6 New Airlines to Fly Regional Over Indian Skyies



The move to grant AOP or NOC comes in the wake of the ministry and the DGCA considering allowing non-scheduled air operators and air charter firms to convert to scheduled operators to fly on routes not touched by the existing scheduled airlines.

Six new airlines are likely to fly in the Indian sky in the coming months with the government giving flying licence to four of six companies which had sought permits for launching scheduled, private or charter air operations.
While AirAsia India, Ligare Aviation Limited, Quickjet Cargo Airlines and LEPL Projects Limited have been granted the Air Operator’s Permit (AOP) or the flying licence, the two pending cases are those of Tata-SIA Airlines Limited and Air Pegasus Limited, Minister of State for Civil Aviation G M Siddeshwara has said.
While AirAsia India has started its operations, Tata-SIA Airlines, a 51:49 joint venture between Tata Sons and Singapore Airlines, has announced plans to launch flights by September-end or October.
Recently, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), which is in the process of examining Tata-SIA’s application for grant of AOP to launch a full-service carrier, recently dismissed objections from the Federation of Indian Airlines against it.
The approval for an AOP, when granted, would be subject to the orders of the Delhi High Court in a case challenging foreign direct investment in new Indian carriers.
Two other airlines, Air Carnival and Zav Airways, have been granted the initial No Objection Certificate (NOC) by the Civil Aviation Ministry to start scheduled regional services.
While Air Carnival proposes to operate in the Southern region, Zav Airways would fly in the Northeastern and Eastern regions, officials said.
Earlier, Ministry officials said NOC has also been granted to AirOne Aviation, Zexus Air Limited, Premier Air and Turbo Megha.
Non-scheduled operator AirOne, headed by a CEO of the erstwhile Air Sahara, is understood to have plans to launch a scheduled airline.


Getting an NOC is the first step towards launching flight operations. The airline companies have to then apply to DGCA for the AOP, complete all necessary requirements and formalities and satisfy the aviation regulator of their capability to launch flight operations.
The move to grant AOP or NOC comes in the wake of the ministry and the DGCA considering allowing non-scheduled air operators and air charter firms to convert to scheduled operators to fly on routes not touched by the existing scheduled airlines.
Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju recently said such moves were aimed at promoting air travel to unconnected destinations. He also said that regional airline services needed to be supported by state governments also as these promoted regional connectivity.