Hiranandani Brothers Among Singapore’s Richest Property Tycoons

first_imgIndian-origin property magnate Raj Kumar Hiranandani and Asok Kumar Hiranandani have been named among Singapore’s top ten richest property tycoons and the two have a collective net worth of $2.6 billion Related Itemslast_img

Princeton, Microsoft File Lawsuit Against Trump’s DACA Decision

first_imgPrinceton University, one of its students and Microsoft have challenged the Donald Trump administration’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The federal government had announced on Sept. 5 that the United States would end the program, started by the Barack Obama administration in March 2018. The Princeton complaint filed on Nov. 3 claims that DACA’s termination violated both the United States Constitution and federal law. In her complaint, Princeton student Maria De La Cruz Perales Sanchez, who has been a beneficiary of the DACA program, said that ending it harms her and other young people in the program, known as dreamers, and “the employers and educational institutions that rely on and benefit from their contributions.” Big technology companies like Facebook, Google, Microsoft and SpaceX have also joined the legal battle against the federal government decision. The amicus brief filed by the companies claims that United States would lose $460.3 billion in the coming decade and contributions to Social Security and Medicare would go down by $24.6 billion in the same time frame. The amicus brief was signed by 108 tech companies.  In 2012, the Obama government created the program so that immigrants who arrived illegally as children could receive protection from deportation. Their deportation was deferred if they fit certain criteria and could complete their education and continue working.  In a statement the university said, Princeton’s DACA students “are among the most accomplished and respected students studying at the University” — they “study in a diverse array of fields,” “serve as mentors and peer advisors, class representatives in student government, and as community organizers and campus leaders,” and “have earned numerous academic honors, awards, and fellowships.”  Meanwhile, Microsoft and its subsidiary LinkedIn said Dreamers “serve in critical roles,” including as software engineers, financial analysts, inventory control experts, and in core technical and operations positions and other specialized functions and internships. The company has made significant investments in “recruiting, retaining and developing” employees “who are Dreamers,” and it has “significant interests in retaining the Dreamers it employs, and in reaping the benefits of their talent over time. It has conducted its business operations on the understanding that these individuals would continue to be eligible to work at the company.”  Replacing dreamers, who work in 72 per cent of top 25 Fortune 500 companies, will cost the companies $6.3 billion. The lawsuit by the tech companies said, “The jobs being filled by Dreamers post-DACA are largely jobs for which there is a shortage of qualified workers—not the jobs that are or could be filled by U.S.-born workers.”  Trump, meanwhile, warned Congressional Democrats that to keep the DACA, which involves the fate of 800,000 people, they would have to lend support to a border wall with Mexico and ending “chain migration”, which allows legal residents to bring their relatives. Democrats had indicated that they would cause trouble for the year-end spending bill.   Related Itemslast_img read more

Narendra Modi Remains Most Popular Indian Political Figure: Survey

first_imgPrime Minister Narendra Modi remains “by far” the most popular figure in Indian politics, according to a Pew Research Center survey. The United States-based think-tank released the main findings on Nov. 15, after conducting a survey among 2,464 respondents in India.The survey, conducted between February 21 and March 10 this year, shows that Modi, with 88 per cent popularity, is ahead of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi by 30 points. He is ahead of Congress president Sonia Gandhi by 31 points and is 49 points ahead of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal (39 per cent).The poll was conducted well before the disastrous impact of the GST and slowdown of the Indian economy had become political liabilities for Modi.The “positive assessment” of Modi by the public is because of the “growing contentment” with the Indian economy, the report said. Pew findings show that more than eight out of 10 people feel that economic conditions in India are “good,” a rise by 19 percentage points since immediately before the 2014 election.In the past three years, the number of adults who say that the economy is “very good” has tripled and stands at 30 per cent.Seven out of 10 Indians feel satisfied with the way things have been going in the country. Since 2014, the positive assessment of India’s direction has increased twofold.In southern states such as Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Telangana, at least nine out of 10 Indians are satisfied with Modi. Even the people of the western states of Maharashtra and Gujarat have a favorable opinion of him.Eight in 10 people surveyed in Delhi, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh as well as in the eastern states of Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha and West Bengal are satisfied with Modi.“Since 2015, Modi’s popularity is relatively unchanged in the north, has risen in the west and the south, and is down slightly in the east,” said the report.The survey shows a drop of 21 percentage points in favorable view of America among Indians. It has gone down from 70 per cent in 2015 to 49 per cent in 2017.“Only 40 per cent express confidence in President Donald Trump to do the right thing regarding world affairs, down 34 points from their faith in his predecessor Barack Obama in 2015,” says the report.China’s favorable rating among Indians has also dropped, from 41 per cent in 2015 to 26 per cent in 2017. Pew conducted this survey before the two countries faced Doklam crisis this summer.On an average, despite sporadic outbreaks of communal violence, few Indians see communal relations as a very big problem in the country, the report added. “Similarly, despite Prime Minister Modi’s decision last November to abolish high-value bank notes, less than half of the Indian population sees the lack of availability of cash to be a major problem,” it said. Related ItemsDemonetizationIndian EconomyNarendra Modilast_img read more

Trump’s Indian American Aide Defends His Immigration Policies

first_imgRaj Shah, the Principal Deputy Press Secretary at the White House, defended United States President Donald Trump after the House of Representative committee approved multiple restrictions on the H-1B visa program. The visa program was beneficial for outsourcing companies, which hired skilled workers from other countries to replace American workers at a lower cost to the firm.Shah said Trump is not “anti-immigration” but “anti-illegal immigration.” Trump has taken a strong stand against undocumented individuals in America and companies using the skilled worker visa program to replace U.S. citizens.According to the new legislation, which awaits Congress nod, American workers can no longer be replaced by workers from other nations in companies that are H-1B dependent.“President Trump has put forward a pretty serious set of proposals on immigration; not just on enforcement but also about reforming the legal system to make it more merit-based right with ideas that work for the US economy and for the American worker,” Shah was quoted as saying by PTI.“First of all, I don’t think that the rhetoric is anti-immigrant. I think it’s anti-illegal immigration,” he said.“To ask for immigration to support the US economy, for asking for people who are coming here to be vetted for public safety or security threats, I don’t think it’s a very big leap. I think it’s very reasonable. The public supports that,” he added.Shah also criticized media for its “unfair” portrayal of Trump’s policies. He said that the president has multiple ways of getting his message across.“He uses it very effectively with Twitter and other social media…when he does a question and answer session we always say look the president is his own best messenger,” he said.The U.S. administration is also considering doing away with H4 visas, which are work permits of spouses holding H-1B visas. The visas benefited mostly women, who were unable to hold jobs until the Obama administration in 2015 allowed work permits to be issued to certain people on the H4 visa. As many as 41,526 people received work permits between October 2015 and September 2016.Indian companies like Wipro, Infosys and Tata Consultancy Services are heavily dependent on the H-1B visa program. One of the restrictions approved by the committee includes raising the minimum wage of an individual to $90,000 per annum as opposed to the earlier figure of $60,000. Related ItemsH-1B visaOutsourcingRaj Shahlast_img read more

Federal Judge Temporarily Stops DACA Repeal

first_imgA federal judge in California gave a temporary reprieve to people who were brought to the United States as children illegally. William Alsup ruled on Jan. 9 that the government must “maintain the Daca program on a nationwide basis” while litigation over the decision by Republicans to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is going on.Federal judge Alsup said that the administration has to process the renewal applications already received but not any new ones.“DACA gave them a more tolerable set of choices, including joining the mainstream workforce,” Alsup wrote. “Now, absent an injunction, they will slide back to the pre-DACA era and associated hardship.”Multiple lawsuits have been filed against the Trump administration’s decision to repeal DACA, also known as Dreamers Act, which gave around 800,000 people permission to live and work in the United States for at least two years after turning 18. The Act was authorised by President Barack Obama in 2012. Thousands of Indians were also estimated to get affected by the decision taken in September 2017 to end DACA by the end of March 2018.According to South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT), a non-profit organization, 5,500 Indians and Pakistanis are covered under DACA and an additional 17,000 from India are eligible for DACA.Meanwhile, in a televised meeting between Trump, Republicans and Democrats on Jan. 9, the President indicated that he wants a comprehensive overhaul to the immigration system. He said he wants to pass a “clean” DACA bill paired with a legislation to construct the wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.“I think a clean DACA bill, to me, is a DACA bill, but we take care of the 800,000 people … but I think, to me, a clean bill is a bill of DACA, we take care of them, and we also take care of security,” Trump said, according to Vox.In September 2017, when the administration announced that it wants to rescind the policy, many companies and 15 states, including Washington and New York, filed lawsuits claiming that the federal government has “backtracked” on protecting young immigrants who came forward to register themselves. Related ItemsDACADonald TrumpUnited Stateslast_img read more

Indian Govt to Introduce New Measures For Increased Aadhaar Security

first_imgAfter the whole controversy surrounding reported security breach against Aadhaar, the Unique Identification Authority of India on Jan 10. said it will bring in two-layer security to reinforce privacy protection for users.The new proposed measures involve giving virtual identification for the ID holders, so that the actual Aadhaar numbers need not be shared by them to authenticate their identity. It means that a 16-digit temporary number will be used instead of the Aadhaar number. The UIDAI said the Virtual ID software would be released by March 1.The virtual identification can be generated, retrieved, revoked or replaced through UIDAI’s portal, mobile app, enrollment centers, etc. For any kind of verification with virtual ID, only name, address and photograph will be shared. This is an effort to curb the number of people who will have access to the Aadhaar number. The UIDAI will also set a minimum validity period for Virtual ID and the users would be able to replace their ID from time to time.The authority has regulated the storage of Aadhaar number within various databases. For an authentication request by agencies, UIDAI will send a UID Token, which is a specific number that will remain the same for a specific agency but will be different for different entities.The measures seek to address the privacy and potential misuse of identity concerns, which have resulted in a legal challenge to Aadhaar in Supreme Court. The virtual ID will be a 16-digit random number mapped with the Aadhaar number and it can only be generated, replaced or revoked by the Aadhaar number holder from time to time.“It will not be possible to derive the Aadhaar number from the virtual ID,” a circular issued by UIDAI said.Until now, a person had to give their 12-digit identity number along with demographic and biometrics or through a one-time password during authentication or e-KYC (know your customer) for accessing various benefits and services from service providers. UIDAI also introduced the concept of limited KYC category which does not access Aadhaar number.The authority now has introduced two categories of an Authentication User Agency (AUA), an entity — government, public or private legal agency– engaged in providing Aadhaar-enabled services. As a category of AUA, the limited KYC category would be providing only need-based details of user to an authorized agency.The changes have again been met with various opinions, with critics calling it unworkable.“The new virtual ID is untested and unworkable. The UIDAI is trying to rectify technical breach by its untested technology,” said one of the petitioners who are fighting a case against Aadhaar in the Supreme Court, NDTV reported. “In the hearing next week, we will oppose it tooth and nail,” the petitioner added.Some, however, welcomed the move.“If someone authenticates you, they will only have the virtual number, and even if their database gets hacked, all that gets lost is the virtual ID number which doesn’t put you at risk because you can always change this number,” Rahul Matthan, partner at law firm Trilegal, was quoted as saying by the Mint.“Aadhaar is here to stay! Happy that the @UIDAI has introduced virtual ID and limited KYC in the spirit of continuous innovation to enhance privacy and security,” former UIDAI chairman Nandan Nilekani tweeted.#Aadhaar is here to stay! Happy that the @UIDAI has introduced virtual ID and limited KYC in the spirit of continuous innovation to enhance privacy and security. https://t.co/EyWGB2KiK5— Nandan Nilekani (@NandanNilekani) January 10, 2018NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden tweeted again about the issue earlier this week, talking of UIDAI’s FIR that is said to name the Tribune journalist who reported on security threat for investigation:The journalists exposing the #Aadhaar breach deserve an award, not an investigation. If the government were truly concerned for justice, they would be reforming the policies that destroyed the privacy of a billion Indians. Want to arrest those responsible? They are called @UIDAI. https://t.co/xyewbK2WO2— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) January 8, 2018Information Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Jan.8 said the government asked the UIDAI to request the Tribune and its journalist to assist the police in the investigation.UIDAI will also be releasing necessary APIs (application programming interfaces) by Mar. 1. All agencies have been directed to make the necessary changes for the use of virtual ID, UID token and limited KYC and operationalize it by June 1. Related ItemsAadhaarUIDAIlast_img read more

Trump Towers Pitches Donald Trump Jr. Meeting, Raising Ethics Concerns

first_imgProspective buyers of luxury apartments in the new Trump Towers project outside India’s capital are being lured with an unusual promise: If you buy a flat, we’ll fly you to the United States to meet the president’s son, Donald Trump Jr.The developers of the 600-foot high-rises unveiled a sleek sales office in the New Delhi suburb of Gurgaon last week, claiming they racked up $23 million in sales – more than 20 units – in the first day.The sweetener?One of the developers, Pankaj Bansal, told the Press Trust of India that “Donald Trump Jr. will host” the first 100 buyers in the United States.Bansal, the director of M3M India, one of the partners on the project, declined to comment for this story. But a spokesperson, Arun Mittal, confirmed Bansal’s remarks and added that the specifics of the buyers’ trip – where they would be flown and under what circumstances they would meet Trump Jr. – were still being worked out.“It has been communicated to the media, but the structure and the travel of the stay is still to be planned out,” Mittal said. Trump Jr. and the Trump Organization in New York did not respond to emails or telephone calls requesting specifics on their Indian partners’ plan.The launch of the new towers comes amid rising concerns that President Donald Trump’s children – including Trump Jr. and Eric, who are running their father’s business while he serves as president – are using their names to profit from their father’s presidency, and that foreign governments and others may stay in Trump hotels or buy Trump properties in attempts to curry favor or gain special access to the first family.A study released this week by the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) found that the price of the popular “Ivanka Suite” in the Trump International Hotel in Washington, for example, increased from $914 a night last year to $2,134 a night in 2018.Norman Eisen, the co-chairman of CREW and a former Obama ethics adviser, called the Indian developers’ offer “outrageous.”“They are auctioning off access to the first family in a foreign land. What is to stop a foreign national with interests before the U.S. government from purchasing a flat, or tagging along with someone who did, simply to ask Don Junior to raise some issue or concern with his father?” Eisen said.The Trump Organization has more business entities in India than any other foreign country, financial filings show, with licensing bringing in estimated payments of between $1.6 million and $11 million total since 2014.As with most of its overseas deals, the Trump family has lent its name, technical assistance and advice but has not invested directly in any of its five projects here.Along with the Trump Towers Delhi NCR (National Capital Region) in Gurgaon, which is expected to be completed in 2023, the projects include two residential towers in the low-key city of Pune, a tower with a glittering gold facade in Mumbai, a planned office tower in Gurgaon and another residential project in the eastern city of Kolkata.Some of Trump’s partners have been the subject of tax or money laundering investigations, and at least three have connections to prominent Indian politicians, a scenario that the Center for American Progress called in a report “a breathtaking array of conflicts.”M3M, for example, was embroiled in a long-running tax investigation that the company said was resolved in its favor. Kalpesh Mehta, the head of Tribeca Developers, the co-partner on this project, was one of three Indian developers who visited Trump shortly after his election in November whose pictures with the president-elect on social media set off a firestorm of controversy.The luxury real estate market in India is sluggish at the moment, but the Trump Organization says that sales of its more moderately prices units in Kolkata have done well – with the building more than 65 percent sold after a “soft launch” last year.Last week, employees from Mumbai-based Tribeca Developers gathered outside the new Trump sales office in the Oberoi Gurgaon – a luxury hotel in a suburb that’s both home to multinational corporations and small farming villages where cattle still meander along dusty lanes. (It recently changed its name from Gurgaon to Gurugram.)They did not allow a reporter to speak to any prospective buyers, who were ushered in one by one to see a model of the two towers emblazoned with the Trump name. The apartment homes in the project – with private elevators and access to a nine-hole golf course – range in price from about $780,000 to $1.6 million.A man in business attire who was on hand to see a sales presentation asked a sales representative what the “discounts” were.She laughed and said that sales have been so good that “we’re not even thinking about discounts at this point.” Related Itemslast_img read more