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News in Brief

  Vishal Sikka resigns as Infosys MD and CEO

Vishal Sikka, former top hand at German multinational software corporation SAP, who had taken over the reins of Infosys in June 2014, stepped down as Managing Director and CEO of the company on August 18.
 

The board of directors of the company accepted the resignation and said Sikka would continue as Executive Vice-chairman. The IT major named U B Pravin Rao as Interim Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director, reporting to Sikka, under the overall supervision and control of the company’s board.

Terror attack in Barcelona

On August 17, at 16:50 local time (14:50 GMT) a white van smashed into people on Las Ramblas, a famous boulevard in central Barcelona that runs 1.2km (0.75 miles) and was packed with tourists.

The van driver is said to have zig-zagged to try and hit as many people as possible along the pedestrianised area, knocking many to the floor and sending others fleeing for cover in shops and cafes.

He killed 13 people and injured more than 100, and managed to flee the scene.

Spanish police have described it as a terror attack.

India’s luxury-car market, may hit a roadblock

India’s luxury-car market, may hit a roadblock if the government implements the decision to raise the cess on large vehicles. In such a scenario, sales could even fall in 2017, industry executives have said.

After a dismal performance in 2016, when the market shrank, luxury-car manufacturers had become upbeat when India set levies on the segment under goods and services tax at a lower rate compared with the previous regime.

They had immediately cut prices to pass on the benefit to consumers, who had responded positively, pushing up demand. But earlier this month, the GST Council decided to raise the cess charged on large cars and utility vehicles to 25% from 15%, taking the total tax incidence to 53% (28% GST plus 25% cess).

Trai accuses Apple of ‘data colonisation’ in India

Telecom regulator Trai has accused American multinational technology company Apple, of engaging in “data colonisation” in India. Trai has also accused Apple of being “anti-consumer” since it does not allow customers to pass on details about pesky calls and unwanted messages to authorities as well as their mobile operators.

The matter has remained unresolved over the last one year and has now led to an attack on the American electronics giant by R S Sharma, chairman of Trai.

“While Google’s Anroid supports our Do-Not-Disturb (DND) app, Apple has just been discussing, discussing, and discussing. They have not done anything,” said Sharma.

Hrithik Roshan signs largest ever endorsement deal by an Indian start-up

In one of the largest endorsement deals signed by an Indian start-up, health and wellness start-up Cure.fit has signed a five-year `100 crore contract with actor Hrithik Roshan, as a brand ambassador.

This five-year-old association includes the actor’s equity stake in the company in lieu of cash investment, promotions and royalty from his personal brand HRX’s specialised workout plan. This plan will be introduced across Cult fitness centres operated by Cure.fit.

HRX Workout offering, available at Cult fitness centres run by Cure.fit, will soon be launched on the mobile app, is expected to rake in `250-crore annual business in the years to come.

H-1B visa clampdown will reduce America’s competitive edge: Report

Clampdown on H-1B visa programme will make it increasingly difficult for the US IT sector to attract open talent from countries like India. In this process, America might lose its competitive edge, a top American think-tank report has shown.

As the Trump administration is carrying out a review of the non-immigrant visas, the Center for Global Development (CGD) in a report said that H-1B visa, the most sought after by Indian IT professionals, is beneficial for both India and the US.

“It is really important to make sure that the I-T sectors from both countries are allowed to attract the right kind of people, because they really allow for innovation and growth in both the countries,” Gaurav Khanna, fellow at the CGD and co- author of the research paper, said.

Companies increasingly looking for flexible workforce: Survey

According to a survey by Flexing It, the workforce dynamics are changing across the world and organisations are more and more keen to take on board significant number of flexible workforce, says a survey.

Flexing It is a platform for independent consultants and flexible management talent. The survey showed that more than half of the surveyed organisations will have over 30 per cent of their workforce, double of what it is today, as flexible talent within next five years.

India’s job confidence outlook highest in Asia Pacific market

India’s job confidence outlook ranked highest in the Asia Pacific market, with 84% Indian professionals participants indicating that they foresee a good future economic scenario in the country.

Indian professionals (84%) favourably viewed their job and economic situation in the next six months and assessed it as ‘good to excellent’, according to the Michael Page Job Applicant Confidence Index Q2 2017. The Index revealed that as compared to India’s 84%, it was 66% among their Asia Pacific counterparts.

The Michael Page Job Applicant Confidence Index Q2 2017, evaluated the responses of 681 senior-level Indian employees across organisations and industries.

Ola investor SoftBank might consider investing in Uber

The Japanese technology and media giant SoftBank is looking for options to invest in Uber at a time when the ride-hailing company’s leadership is in a position of unrest.

However, SoftBank’s investment interest in Uber is absolutely in a nascent stage and the two companies have held only preliminary meetings.

But if a deal were to be reached, it would add to a convoluted web of investments in the ride-hailing industry, where competitors have become strange bedfellows through investors who have placed bets on multiple companies.

Arundhati’s second novel shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2017

Arundhati Roy’s second novel, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness has found a place among the 13 novels shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2017. The Booker judges opine that Arundhati’s novel is “a rich and vital book [that] comes from the bowels of India”.

The Man Booker Prize worth £50,000 prize, was bagged by Arundhati Roy, 20 years ago, in her 1997 debut novel The God of Small Things.

A shortlist of six selected from these 13 will be declared on September 13th, while the winning book will be announced on 17 October. According to Baroness Lola Young, chair of the 2017 judging panel, for its 49th year, the 13 shortlisted novels for the Man Booker Prize “showcase a diverse spectrum – not only of voices and literary styles but of protagonists too”.

Japan comes in full-support of India in its standoff with China

Japan came out in full support for India in its long-drawn-out military standoff with China at Doklam, near the Sikkim-Tibet-Bhutan trijunction, saying no country should use unilateral forces to change the status quo on the ground.

Acknowledging the situation at the Doklam Plateau, Japanese Ambassador to India Kenji Hiramatsu said, “We recognise Doklam is a disputed area between Bhutan and China and the two countries are engaged in border talks.

We also understand that India has a treaty understanding with Bhutan, that’s why Indian troops got involved in the area,” according to the local media.

Job opportunities in the telecom sector likely to take a boost: Study

Job opportunities in the telecom sector are likely to increase by 30 lakh by 2018, a study has said.

This phenomenon is most likely to happen because of the roll-out of 4G technology with an increase in data, entry of new players in the market, introduction of digital wallets and the popularity of smartphones leading to consistent increase in demand for technology.

Emerging technologies such as 5G, M2M and the evolution of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) are expected to create employment avenues for almost 8,70,000 individuals by 2021, revealed a joint study by Assocham-KPMG. It said the existing manpower in the sector may not be adequate both in number as well as in skill to cater to the upcoming demand.

Supreme Court suspends ‘triple talaq’ divorce law

India’s Supreme Court has blocked ‘triple talaq’ or instant divorce, practised by some in the Muslim community, until the government frames new legislation, a partial victory for Muslim women who had long argued that the rule violated their right to equality.

Three out of the five judges on the constitution bench ruled against the ‘triple talaq’, which allowed Muslim men to divorce their wives simply by uttering the word ‘talaq’ three times.

The judges said the law violated Article 14 and 21 of the constitution of India, which is related to equality, and protection of life and personal liberty respectively.

Muslim women say they have been left destitute by husbands divorcing them through “triple talaq”, including by Skype and WhatsApp.

60% organisations improve employee engagement levels over last 2 years: Report

Nearly 60% organisations affirmed to have improved employee engagement levels compared to last two years. For most (nearly 55%) organisations, the engagement levels have grown up by 10-15%, shows the TimesJobs survey of over 550 employers.

According to the survey, of these 55% of the surveyed companies, 40% said to have investment heavily in their culture. Overall, 90% of the HR managers of these companies said that a focus on culture had improved their financial performance, as well.

When asked about experiencing the organisational culture and improved engagement levels, about 80% employees strongly feel the link between the two and 20% do not. About 75% organisations happily invested to boost the engagement levels and only 25% companies do not invest at any level.

IIT entrance test to completely go online from 2018

Entrance to the premier engineering colleges-Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) will completely go online from 2018. In a meeting held at Indian Institute of Technology Madras on Sunday, the Joint Admission Board (JAB), it was decided that from next year the Joint Entrance Examination (Advanced) will be conducted online.

Bhaskar Ramamurthi, Director, Indian Institute of Technology Madras and Chairman, Joint Admission Board (JAB) 2017, stated, “The Apex Body for conduct of JEE (Advanced), at its meeting today (20.8.2017), has decided that JEE (Advanced) will be conducted in online mode from 2018 onwards. Further information regarding the examination will be provided by the JAB in due course.”

ATM withdrawals rise, so do PoS transactions

It’s been six months since the demonetisation exercise got over, and cash withdrawals from automated teller machines have been steadily rising, latest data released by Reserve Bank of India have shown. At the same time, transactions through point-of-sale terminals have also risen, the data revealed.

According to the data, cash withdrawals from ATMs were more than `2.22 lakh crore in June 2017, as compared to `2.54 lakh crore recorded in October 2016 — the month before the high-value notes were withdrawn.

Cash withdrawals from ATMs halved in November 2016 as compared with October, coming down further in December.

India’s e-commerce market to touch $33 billion this fiscal: Govt

The e-commerce segment in India is growing and is likely to touch USD 33 billion this fiscal, the Parliament was informed. In the 2016-17 fiscal, the online market had grown by 19%, Minister of State for Consumer Affairs C R Chaudhary said in a written reply to the Rajya Sabha. “India’s e-commerce market is estimated to be USD 33 billion in the financial year 2017,” he said, quoting industry body NASSCOM’s latest estimates.

Private equity and venture capital investments jump 41%

In the first half of this calendar year, private equity and venture capital investments have touched a record USD 11.2 billion. This is a 41% rise over last year on the back of big ticket deals, as per one EY report.

During the January to June period this year, PE/VC investments stood at USD 11.2 billion, the highest ever investments during the first six months of a year. In the January-June 2016, PE/VC investments stood at USD 8 billion.