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Over 200 Microsoft employees urge Nadella to cancel contracts with police

“I stand with the Black and African-American community and we are committed to building on this work in our company and in our communities,” said the Hyderabad-born Nadela said.

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Washington, Jun 10 : Over 200 Microsoft employees have urged CEO Satya Nadella to cancel the company”s contracts with the Seattle police department and other law enforcement agencies amid widespread calls in the US to defund the police following the custodial killing of African-American George Floyd, according to a media report.

There has been a growing demand from a section of the Americans to defund the police after a white police officer knelt on Floyd”s neck for over eight minutes despite his repeated pleas that he can”t breathe on May 25 in Minneapolis.

The internal email, which included more than 250 employees, was sent on Monday, addressed to Nadella and executive Vice President Kurt DelBene, with the subject line “Our neighborhood has been turned into a warzone”, according to a report in OneZero.medium, an online portal about tech and science.

The letter requests that Microsoft cancel the contracts with the Seattle Police Department (SPD) and other law enforcement agencies and asks the company to formally support the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement and calls for the resignation of the Seattle mayor.

“Every one of us in the CC line are either first hand witnesses or direct victims to the inhumane responses of SPD to peaceful protesting,” the letter said, according to the copy obtained by OneZero.

The employee who authored the email indicated that they live in Seattle”s Capitol Hill neighbourhood, where protests have become increasingly violent, the report said.

“Those who choose to support the movement in ways other than boots-on-the-ground protests have also suffered the results of the SPD response,” one employee wrote in the email thread.

In a statement from Microsoft, India-born Nadella said, “As a company, we need to look inside, examine our organisation, and do better.”

In an earlier statement on June 1 condemning the protests, the 52-year-old Indian-origin Microsoft CEO said, “there is no place for hate and racism in our society. Empathy and shared understanding are a start, but we must do more.”

“I stand with the Black and African-American community and we are committed to building on this work in our company and in our communities,” said the Hyderabad-born Nadela said.

Floyd”s killing led to violent nationwide protests with demands for an end to police brutality and racial justice.

However, US President Donald Trump on Monday ruled out defunding or dismantling the police departments in the American cities, saying, “these people do a tremendous job of protecting citizens of our country.”

Meanwhile, IBM CEO Arvind Krishna has told the US Congress that the technology giant is no longer offering its facial recognition or analysis software and “firmly opposes” technology that is used for mass surveillance, racial profiling and violations of basic human rights and freedoms.

Krishna on Monday sent the letter to Congress outlining detailed policy proposals to advance racial equality in America, which has seen widespread protests and demonstrations against the spate of recent killing of African-Americans, including that of Floyd.

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MTNL plans to sell assets in Mumbai through DIPAM

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MTNL chairman Purwar

New Delhi, Sep 19 : State-run telecom operator MTNL has submitted a set of assets for monetisation through the framework of the Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM), which comes under the Finance Ministry.

The assets proposed for sale include land, staff quarters and telephone exchange in Mumbai, said Anurag Thakur, Minister of State for Finance and Corporate Affairs, in reply to a question in the Lok Sabha.

“MTNL has submitted a set of assets for monetisation through the DIPAM Framework…. No property in Delhi is presently under monetisation through the DIPAM Framework,” he said.

He informed the Lok Sabha that international property consultants have been appointed for end-to-end transaction advice on monetisation of these properties.

Noting that the asset monetisation process is a complex one involving multiple stakeholders and agencies, he said that a specific time frame for the completion of these monetisation transactions cannot be defined at present.

The value at which the assets would be monetised would depend on the feasibility of monetisation of the asset, the monetisation model and the market conditions prevailing at the time of monetisation, Thakur said, adding that it would be difficult to anticipate the sale proceeds presently.

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Centre mulls closure of PSUs up for sale on case-to-case basis

Thakur noted that the government has given ‘in-principle’ approval for strategic disinvestment of 34 CPSEs, including subsidiaries and units of CPSEs.

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Centre proposes Disinvestment

New Delhi, Sep 19 : The Union government may consider the closure of central public sector units (PSUs) even if they have been approved for strategic disinvestment on a case-to-case basis.

In a written reply to a question in the Lok Sabha, Minister of State for Finance Anurag Thakur said that the government follows a policy of closure of centre public sector enterprises (CPSEs) in terms of the approved revised guidelines dated June 14, 2018 issued by the Department of Public Enterprises (DPE).

“The government may consider the closure of the CPSEs even in cases earlier approved for strategic disinvestment on a case to case basis,” Thakur said, adding that the guidelines issued by the DPE on the closure of CPSEs addresses the concerns regarding the employees and assets.

Thakur noted that the government has given ‘in-principle’ approval for strategic disinvestment of 34 CPSEs, including subsidiaries and units of CPSEs.

Several of these CPSEs are loss making and sick entities where the government in the past had also faced difficulties in strategic disinvestment. Such companies which have lost value could be the ones that may be recommended for closure.

In certain other CPSEs, policy of minority stake sale without transfer of management control through various SEBI approved methods is being followed in order to unlock the value, promote public ownership and higher degree of accountability, he said.

The various modes of disinvestment commonly used for minority stake sale includes Initial Public Offer (IPO), Follow on Public Offer (FPO), Offer for Sale (OFS), buyback of shares and Exchange Traded Funds (ETF).

“Transaction receipts on conclusion of disinvestment transactions depend on the prevailing market conditions and investors’ interest,” the minister said.

The budget estimate (BE) of disinvestment receipts for 2020-21 from disinvestment of CPSEs was fixed at Rs 1.20 lakh crore.

The already lagging disinvestment plans, have been severely impacted by the ongoing pandemic and deadlines for submission of bids major PSUs on the block, such as oil major BPCL and national carrier Air India have been postponed.

The government is also coming up with a new strategic disinvestment policy as announced by the Finance Minister in May. According to sources, the Cabinet may soon take up and approve the new strategic disinvestment policy, which would include the banking and insurance sector.

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Doubts raised on transparency of 2 PM funds; LS passes Taxation Bill

The Congress raised questions on creation of PM CARES when PMNRF was already present and it was used to help states during various disasters from 2015 to till now.

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New Delhi, Sep 19 : The Lok Sabha on Saturday passed Taxation and Other Laws (Relaxation and Amendment of Certain Provisions) Bill, 2020 amid counter allegations levelled by both the BJP and the Congress members on their top party leadership.

Linking the present government’s PM CARES Fund and Prime Minister National Relief Fund (PMNRF) set up by India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru in 1948, both the parties raised suspicion over transparency of both the funds.

The cross allegations created uproar for the second consecutive day in the lower House when Union Minister of State Anurag Thakur on Saturday again raised question on the transparency of PMNRF alleging Congress of utilising the money received in the fund for the benefit of Nehru-Gandhi family while participating in the debate over the Bill which was moved by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharamn on Saturday for consideration and passage.

The Minister made allegation against Congress’ interim President Sonia Gandhi and her family of utilising the fund of PMNRF being members of the trust.

He also alleged that funds received in PMNRF were transferred in Rajiv Gandhi Foundation and from their it was transferred into various other trusts.

Thakur also alleged that fugitive controversial televangelist Zakir Naik donated Rs 50 lakh into Sonia Gandhi-led Rajiv Gandhi Foundation in 2011.

Though the amount was returned in 2014 it clarified links of the party with Naik, Thakur alleged.

However, the Congress raised questions on creation of PM CARES when PMNRF was already present and it was used to help states during various disasters from 2015 to till now.

Congress leaders Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury and Gaurav Gogoi alleged that there are many “loopholes” in Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations (PM-CARES) fund.

The party also sought details of Vivekanand Foundation and some other trusts related to the BJP.

The Bill was later passed with voice vote during over four hour long counter allegations by both the parties on each other.

The Bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha on Friday to replace the Taxation and other Laws (Relaxation of Certain Provisions) Ordinance, 2020 which was promulgated on March 31 this year.

Speaking on the Bill, Sitharaman said we are raising questions on Rajiv Gandhi Foundation because Congress gave money to the trust from PMNRF.

Countering Congress allegations, the Minister said what names the party has taken are not given money from PM-CARES fund on which the opposition has raised question on several occasions earlier after it was set up to undertake and support relief or assistance of any kind relating to a public health emergency during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“You are a responsible political party. Don’t spread rumours. It’s not good for your credibility.”

Citing Rafale fight jet deal, the Minister said Congress indulged in “rumour mongering” and it got back replies. “You will again get answers.”

The government came with the Bill which seeks to amend the Income-tax Act, 1961, the Central Goods and Services Tax Act, 2017; the Finance Act, 2019; the Direct Tax Vivad se Vishwas Act, 2020 and the Finance Act, 2020 which are administered by the Department of Revenue through two boards, namely, the Central Board of Direct Taxes and the Central Board of Indirect Taxes. Thus, no additional expenditure is contemplated on the enactment of the Bill.

The Bill provides for extension of various time limits for completion or compliance of actions under the specified Acts and reduction in interest, waiver of penalty and prosecution for delay in payment of certain taxes or levies during the specified period.

The Finance Act, 2020 is also proposed to be amended to clarify regarding capping of surcharge at 15 per cent on dividend income of the Foreign Portfolio Investor.

The Bill also proposes to empower the Central government to remove any difficulty up to a period of two years and provide for repeal and savings of the Taxation and Other Laws (Relaxation of Certain Provisions) Ordinance, 2020.

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