e2003

A drivers union with members of cab aggregators Ola and Uber which had struck work last month, demanding better incentives, are mulling launch of their own App, with financial help from JDS leader H D Kumaraswamy. "As there is still a stalemate between cab aggregators Ola and Uber - and our union, some of us are mulling launching our own cab hailing app," Uber, TaxiForSure and Ola Drivers And Owners Association President Tanveer Pasha told PTI here. He said the idea to launch this app was mooted by former Chief Minister Kumaraswamy during their protests last month, demanding better incentives from Ola and Uber cab aggregators.
Kumaraswamy too confirmed that he would be extending financial help for this new venture.

"Various leaders of the drivers' union showed interest in this new venture, which will be run and managed by drivers themselves. I will be extending financial help to them in their venture," he said. The protesters were demanding that the government prevail over aggregators in asking them to adhere to the provisions under the 'Karnataka On-Demand Transportation Technology Aggregators Rules, 2016.' As per rules, rates for AC and non-AC taxis are fixed at Rs 19.50 per km and 14.50 per km for non-AC cabs, but drivers are reportedly given between Rs four to Rs five. The drivers also want Ola and Uber to stop attachment of new cabs as it affects their bookings, as also immediate stoppage of penalising drivers, based on customer ratings. "The launch of our app will permanently solve our problem of getting exploited by the cab aggregators," Pasha said.

He said various leaders of drivers' unions had shown keen interest in being a part of the venture which will be handed over to them by Kumaraswamy and run by themselves. Stating that all expenses to create the App would also be taken of by Kumaraswamy, he claimed that 20 firms from USA and Europe had already shown keen interest in developing the App, "which is expected to be ready within this month, if all goes well." Over one lakh drivers attached to two cab aggregators had gone on strike last month, demanding better incentives and stopping attachment of new cabs which they said affects bookings. The protests had also seen ransacking of a city Uber office on February 23. The following day Uber had moved Karnataka High Court, seeking to restrain the drivers from continuing the strike. The Court issued an injunction restraining striking unions, their leaders, members and followers from preventing driver partners of Uber from operating. Ola had requested police to effectively enforce the order and take action against people carrying out illegal acts and ensure safety of their riders and driver partners. Some of the drivers here have withdrawn from the stir.

News source: Business Today

Posted On Monday, 20 March 2017 12:31

e2002

China's "One Belt, One Road" (OBOR) infrastructure plan was receiving "broad global support" despite India's objections to the plan, Chinese state media said on Monday. This came after China's diplomats on Friday hailed a United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution which for the first time mentioned the OBOR, which envisages a land-economic belt to South and Central Asia and Europe, and a maritime "silk road" to Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean. India isn't among the countries that have backed the plan, as a key flagship project of the OBOR is an economic corridor through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK). China is hosting the first OBOR summit in Beijing in May, with 20 global leaders and representatives from 50 countries and international organisations expected. India hasn't yet decided on its representation at the summit.

'WATCHING THE RISE OF CHINA'
Indian officials have repeatedly expressed concerns to China about the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) violating its sovereignty in PoK, which is Indian territory. China has similarly objected to economic exploration projects in the South China Sea, for instance between India and Vietnam. CPEC was initiated more than a year before President Xi Jinping unveiled the OBOR plan in 2013. China made the decision to include the CPEC as a flagship corridor under the OBOR rather than carry it forward as a separate project, essentially closing the door to any Indian involvement in OBOR. "New Delhi cannot prevent the growth of the OBOR's influence," the Global Times, a Communist Party-run tabloid published by the official People's Daily, said in a commentary on Monday. "If India wants to exclude itself from the OBOR at a time when the initiative is receiving widespread support from the global community, India will end up simply watching the rise of China's international reputation."

CREATING A FAVOURABLE ATMOSPHERE FOR CHINA

The paper said that "despite concerns from India, broader support has been given to the OBOR from the international community". As the UNSC on Friday adopted a resolution to extend the mandate of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) by one year, the text called on countries to "strengthen the process of regional economic cooperation, including measures to facilitate regional connectivity, trade and transit, including through regional development initiatives such as the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road (the Belt and Road) Initiative". Chinese diplomats have portrayed the reference as a diplomatic victory of sorts, with Liu Jieyi, the Chinese permanent representative to the United Nations, saying it showed "the consensus of the international community on embracing the concept, and manifesting huge Chinese contributions to the global governance". Liu said the move would be "conducive to creating a favourable atmosphere for China to host a Belt and Road forum for international cooperation in Beijing this May in order to brainstorm on interconnected development."

BEIJING WANTS DELHI TO ADOPT AN OPEN ATTITUDE

The Global Times said if "Delhi has concerns about the CPEC as a flagship project in the OBOR, India's joining the initiative could cement its economic ties with China and possibly shift the initiative's center of gravity." "The dispute over Kashmir between India and Pakistan makes New Delhi habitually vigilant against any possibility of large-scale foreign investment flowing into the region, but it is necessary to learn to distinguish activities between normal commercial investment and ones that could violate India's sovereignty. Both the OBOR and the CPEC are economic initiatives. Hopefully India will wake up to the benefits and adopt an open attitude toward joining the initiatives."

CPEC A VIOLATION OF SOVEREIGNTY, SAYS INDIA

India, however has disregarded China's argument of the CPEC being "purely economic" and pointed out that China has on numerous instances objected to economic projects in the South China Sea, for instance when India and Vietnam took forward exploration projects. Stressing that India was a "pro-connectivity country" with a number of regional connectivity projects, Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar conveyed to China at the February 22 strategic dialogue in Beijing that it was a fact that the CPEC "violates Indian sovereignty because it runs through PoK". "The issue is not about connectivity per se," Jaishankar said. "The fact is CPEC is part of this particular initiative and CPEC violates Indian sovereignty because it runs through PoK. Therefore, since they are a country very sensitive to sovereignty concerns it was for them to see how a country whose sovereignty has been violated can come on an invitation. We would like to see what proposals anybody has in that regard," Jaishankar said.

News source: India Today

Posted On Monday, 20 March 2017 12:27

e2001

IMPHAL: Ahead of its floor test in the assembly on Monday, the BJP-led coalition government achieved a significant breakthrough when it managed to convince the United Naga Council (UNC) to lift its four-month-long economic blockade on the Imphal-Dimapur and Imphal-Silchar highways. The UNC decided to lift the blockade, which had left Manipur teetering on the edge, from Sunday midnight, 139 days after it had launched its protest against the creation of new districts by the former Congress government. The outfit claimed that the move was detrimental to the interests of Nagas as it ended up dividing their ancestral areas. They demanded a rollback and threatened to continue the stir if it was not done. The decision to end the blockade was taken at a tripartite meeting between the UNC, the newly-formed state government and the Centre at the district headquarters of Senapati.

The meeting was held at the behest of the Nongthombam Biren Singh government which had said that its first agenda after coming to power would be to end the prolonged economic blockade. The announcement by the UNC was met with jubilation, loud cheers and bursting of crackers. Following a threadbare discussion on Sunday, an agreement statement released on the occasion, stated "the grievances of the UNC which led to the imposition of economic blockade by them was recognised as there was non-adherence to the four MoUs and the Centre's assurance on the matter". It added, "As the MoUs said that creation of new districts would not be done without consulting the stakeholders, the state government agreed to start consultation with all stakeholders to redress the same." Following the tripartite meeting, the Naga civil apex body said, "To create conducive environment for the democratic process of consultation and dialogue, the UNC will lift the economic blockade with effect from tonight (Sunday midnight)."

News source: Times of India

Posted On Monday, 20 March 2017 12:08

e1706

Incoming U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer told lawmakers this week that he would take “aggressive” measures to protect intellectual property rights in India. IPR protection has been a bone of contention between India and the U.S. for years now, and several American companies and lawmakers have been pressing the administration for stricter measures.

First question

At the hearing for his confirmation as USTR in the Senate Finance Committee, the first question that Mr. Lighthizer faced was on India, from Chairman Orrin G Hatch. “Now what can you do differently to secure intellectual property rights protection in the country of India?” Mr. Hatch asked. Lighthizer said, “I think we need a policy that is as aggressive as we can have. There are a whole lot of areas where we are at risk in intellectual property protection; including with India. Slow and inefficient patent protection, theft of intellectual properly, insufficient property protection.” New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez said: “I think it's a great opportunity for us to build greater economic ties with India, but I have a real problem with their lack of protection of intellectual property rights…”

Watch list

The USTR annual report on IP rights has kept India on priority watch list for years now, even as U.S. companies have sought stricter measures. Sec 3 ( d ) of India's Patent Act prevents pharmaceutical companies from continually extending patents by making minor changes in the product and American companies find India’s compulsory licensing provisions harsh. The new trade policy released by the USTR earlier this month calls for measures to increase market access for American products and services. American policy makers have problems with India’s copyrights laws too, but India maintains that its IPR regime is compliant with WTO standards. “There has been only one instance of issue of a Compulsory License (CL), which should not warrant a discussion on unilateral trade sanctions especially as the action was TRIPS compliant,” said Ridhika Batra, Director USA at Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry.

“The provision of 3(d) in the Indian Patents Act and CL provisions have worried international pharmaceutical companies since the amendment to the Indian Patent Act in 2005, that it may encourage other developing and even some developed countries to introduce similar provisions in their laws. Such bilateral pressures are now seen globally as pressure tactics on developing countries driven by a few ‘big’ international pharma companies,” Ms. Batra said. “Indian policy framework is driven by the needs of its people,” she said, adding that while all its policies are within the framework of international treaties and agreements, “each country is sovereign and may adopt or reflect or emulate as per its specific requirements.”

News source: The Hindu

Posted On Friday, 17 March 2017 10:29

e1705

India's largest biometric-based identification system Aadhaar on Thursday got a thumbs up from World Bank chief economist Paul Romer. The chief economist described it 'the most sophisticated ID programme in the world. "The system in India is the most sophisticated that I've seen. It's the basis for all kinds of connections that involve things like financial transactions," Bloomberg quoted Paul Romer as saying. He went on to say that it would be better if world follows the same system. "It could be good for the world if this became widely adopted," Romer said. Romer is of the view that world needs to have one standardized system for people's ID.

"Other countries are also looking at similar programs, but research shows it's best to develop one standardized system so people can carry their IDs wherever they go in the world," Paul Romer added. Aadhaar is a 12 digit unique-identity number issued to all Indian residents based on their biometric and demographic data. It was initially a document for identification purpose, however, it has now been made mandatory for some of the government-run programmes. Earlier in January, the Ministry of Rural Development and the Ministry of Labour made Aadhaar number mandatory for members and pensioners of the Employees' Pension Scheme and for those registered under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee (MGNREGA) Scheme. It has also been mandatory for the registration of the vehicles in Tamil Nadu.

Aadhaar is the world's largest biometric ID system, with over 1.123 billion enrolled members as of 28 February 2017.

News source: Business Today

Posted On Friday, 17 March 2017 10:21
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