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ICPA seeks ‘one rank one pay’ for AI pilots

According to ICPA, from October 2017, the Air India management had started paying a section of wide-body pilots an ad-hoc amount at par with the new proposal which is yet to be approved by the ministry.

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Air India

New Delhi, Oct 17 ; The Indian Commercial Pilots’ Association (ICPA) on Tuesday sought ‘one rank one pay’ for all the pilots of the national passenger carrier Air India.

In a letter to Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu, ICPA urged the ministry to address the pilots’ pay parity issue which is the legacy of Air India-Indian Airlines merger that took place more than a decade ago.

According to ICPA, from October 2017, the Air India management had started paying a section of wide-body pilots an ad-hoc amount at par with the new proposal which is yet to be approved by the ministry.

The letter alleges that half of the flying allowance paid to wide-body pilots is still being paid in fixed US dollar exchange rate of Rs 45.50, while the present US dollar exchange rate has reached an all time high of Rs 74.

As per the letter, while majority of Air India pilots are paid international layover subsistence allowance on actual international night stops ($200), a section of wide body pilots continue to receive a fixed monthly international layover allowance irrespective of number of international night stops undertaken.

“We fail to understand as to why the top management has turned a blind eye to this issue which is bleeding the national carrier of high value foreign exchange,” the October 16 letter said.

“In spite of being in the know of the US dollars being paid to these pilots at an exchange rate of INR 45.50, the Director (Operations) has taken no initiative to correct the wrong for reasons best known to him,” it said.

IANS

Business

IITF 2018: Exhibitors rue lack of space, facilities

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New Delhi, Nov 17: Space constraints and lack of basic facilities have left traders and exhibitors at the annual India International Trade Fair (IITF) disappointed as the venue undergoes a makeover but some customers are happy they don’t have to walk around much.

Be it food stalls or state/international pavilions, everything at the fair has shrunk this time due to the implementation of the IECC (Integrated Exhibition-cum-Convention Center) project at Pragati Maidan.

The traders are also struggling to avail proper water and food facilities.

Chhattisgarh-based Kanhaiya Lal Dewangan, who is selling handloom saris, is having to adjust his stall every now and then to make room for the visitors.

“Earlier I used to get a large stall but this time due to the ongoing construction work, I had to settle with a smaller one. I’m not even able to unfold the saris and display them to customers properly. It gets difficult to handle even one customer at a time now,” Dewangan told IANS.

Like Dewangan, there were several other exhibitors who expressed the same concern and felt that IITF 2018 was one of the most disorganised fairs.

Known for setting up Lucknow’s famous Chikankari kurta stall, U.K. Mishra slammed the organisers for not fulfilling the exhibitors and traders’ basic demands.

“We can manage in this little space but how can we live without water? There are hardly one or two water filters in the whole hall. Just imagine, 800 stalls and only one or two water filters,” he said.

“And to get entry, every day we have to buy a ticket. We did not even get an entry card. We have just one entry card and we are two people who manage this stall. My brother has to buy a ticket of Rs 500 every day. Organisers should look after this and provide concessions to the exhibitors,” he added.

Addressing the furious exhibitors’ complaints, Hema Maity, General Manager at the India Trade Promotion Organisation (ITPO), told IANS: “I agree there is a lack of water facilities. Many water pipelines are blocked due to construction work but we have arranged water ATMs and water tanks everywhere with a charge of just Rs 2 per glass and Rs 5 for bottles.

“There are many inconveniences faced by the people this time, but the construction and redevelopment taking place are for their betterment only.”

IITF, which marked the initial four days (November 14-17) for business visitors, is scheduled to continue till November 27. The 14-day fair is organised by ITPO under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.

Around 800 national and international participants are taking part in the exhibition. The average footfall is expected to be around 30,000 approximately, alarmingly lower than previous editions.

Covering just 23,000 sqm of land, the IITF 2018 is causing trouble to the traders and visitors alike.

From unorthodox parking provisions to limited seating arrangement and shuttles, there are many inconveniences for the visitors.

Veena Pandey, who has been attending the trade fair for the past 20 years, was discontent with the quality of food this time.

“There are no proper food stalls, no seating arrangement, nothing. And even if you find a stall, the food items are overpriced. Take a look outside, and so many people are sitting on the grass just because of the shortage of chairs” she said.

A few customers, however, were happy.

“I know there is less space, but to be honest, we are happy as now we do not have to walk a lot. It saves a lot of time. Old people can now easily go and look up to the stalls,” said Amita, a customer who attended the fair with her family.

Despite constraints, all Indian states and union territories have made space and installed their stalls, but those from neighboring countries like Pakistan and Sri Lanka were missing in the fair.

Afghanistan is the partner country whereas Nepal is the focus country and Jharkhand, the focus state of IITF 2018.

IANS

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Facebook investors want Mark Zuckerberg to step down: Report

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg

San Francisco, Nov 17: Facebook investors have increased pressure on Chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg to step down after a New York Times investigation suggested that the social network hired a Republican-owned political consulting and PR firm that “dug up dirt on its competitors”.

According to a report in The Guardian on Saturday, Jonas Kron, Senior Vice President at Trillium Asset Management which owns a substantial stake in Facebook, “called on Zuckerberg to step down as board chairman in the wake of the report”.

“Facebook is behaving like it’s a special snowflake. It’s not. It is a company and companies need to have a separation of chair and CEO,” Kron was quoted as saying.

The New York Times report suggested that Facebook hired Definers Public Affairs, a Washington, D.C.-based conservative firm which did PR work for the social networking giant “and dug up dirt on the company’s competitors and its critics”.

In a press call, Zuckerberg denied he had any prior knowledge about this firm.

“After reading the article, I got on the phone with our team and we are no longer working with this firm,” he said.

Definers allegedly “encouraged the depiction of Facebook’s critics as anti-Semites and had published news articles criticising Facebook’s competitors”.

Another Facebook investor Natasha Lamb from Arjuna Capital said the combined role of chairman and chief executive means that “Facebook can avoid properly fixing problems inside the company”, said the report.

According to TechCrunch, founded by a Republican campaign manager known for his dirt-digging prowess, Definers is far from a normal, politically neutral contractor.

In a statement, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg also denied any knowledge of the firm.

Facebook said that it used the consultant Definers Public Affairs to look into the funding of “Freedom from Facebook” to demonstrate that it was not simply a spontaneous grassroots campaign, as it claimed, “but supported by a well-known critic of our company,” presumably liberal financier George Soros.

“To suggest that this was an anti-Semitic attack is reprehensible and untrue,” the company added.

Facebook has also refuted allegation that it knew about Russian activity as early as the spring of 2016 but was slow to investigate it at every turn.

As fallout of the report, Facebook stocks fell 3 per cent on Friday to $139.53, the lowest since April 2017.

IANS

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FIIs to stage a strong comeback, says Assocham

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ASSOCHAM

Mumbai, Nov 16 :The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham) on Friday said it expects foreign institutional investors (FIIs) to “stage a strong comeback” owing to the strengthening rupee, low inflation along with weakening oil prices.

“We expect foreign institutional investors to stage a strong comeback into India sooner than later with the rupee improving and getting stable,” Assocham said in a statement.

A sharp rally by the rupee was buoyed by big drop in global oil prices, the top industry body said.

The benchmark Brent Crude had touched $86 a barrel in early October and in sharp contrast was trading at $67.74 on Friday.

India is the third largest importer of crude oil, and a steep fall in global prices eases concerns about inflation, fiscal and current account deficit.

Signs of reversal in trend came on Thursday when provisional data with the exchanges showed that foreign funds inflow touched a three-month high of Rs 2,043.06 crore.

The rupee and the US dollar equation along with an uncertain domestic and global economic growth outlook had triggered a massive foreign fund outflow from the country’s capital markets in October.

According to analysts, investors pulled out from emerging markets to redeploy their capital into safe-havens such as the US securities.

According to data provided by the National Securities Depository (NSDL), this year outflow of foreign funds stands at Rs 39,209 crore from the equity segment, highest since 2008 when they had withdrawn Rs 51,252 crore in the wake of global crisis.

However, another major reason for the funds outflow was the US Federal Reserve’s decision to raise its key interest rate in the month of September. A rate hike by the US Fed generally drives away foreign funds from major emerging markets like India.

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