Dismissing the government's pleas against the full disclosure of the names of foreign account holders, SC says the SIT will decide the future course of action
After the Supreme Court rapped the Central government for not providing it with complete information about the foreign bank account holders, the centre handed over a list of 627 Indians, who were found to be holding illegal bank accounts abroad. The first document contains the details of treaties and agreements that India has signed with other nations, including Switzerland, where black money is believed to be stashed, while the second document has all the names of the account holders. The third document contains the status report on investigation of the case.
Sources say that there are atleast 800 Indians who have foreign bank accounts in other nations. Rejecting the Centre’s argument that revealing the names of legal bank account holders would be a breach of privacy, the special bench headed by Chief Justice of India HL Dattu said, “Don’t give us your list... but the names given to you by France and Germany. If it breaches confidentiality, let it be.”
When the Centre contended that the names be revealed only after investigations proved that the accounts indeed hold black money, the court replied by saying, “Why are you taking the trouble to investigate? We have taken the responsibility to bring back the (black) money and we will decide the future course (of action),”
The court has set the date of its next hearing on 3rd December.
The Home Minister Mr Rajnath Singh said that the Centre is not interested in protecting anyone and will follow the orders of the court. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley too said, that the government had absolutely no problem in giving the list to the court.
The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had also accused the previous Congress government of failing to crack down on Indians parking billions of untaxed dollars abroad and had also said that the opposition will be ‘embarrassed’ if names of account holders were revealed.
The Congress, on its part, asked the government to come out with complete information without indulging in "selective leaks" and pointed out that "the Congress is not going to be blackmailed under any such threat".
High attrition has been a trend with the IT industry since a long time now. Will aggressive retention policies adopted by industry giants buck the trend?
In an attempt to retain key staff and improve employee morale, the Bangalore based IT giant, Infosys, has promoted 4000 employees this month alone. With this number, the company has given promotions to 12% of its 1,65,000 employee workforce since the beginning of the current financial year.
Promotions were given irrespective of verticals and markets. Major promotions took place in sales, delivery and business-enabling functions. As per the software exporter’s spokesperson, "We announced a quarterly promotion system earlier this year. In August, 5,000 employees across sales, delivery and business-enabling functions across geographies were promoted," said a company spokeswoman. "With the promotions we did at the beginning of this month, over 19,000 employees have been promoted since April 2014."
The current round is the fourth round of promotions this fiscal. Infosys has a long standing history of elevating staff once year and this once-a-quarter promotion system marks a shift in this long term strategy.
Though Infosys has adopted other policies too, including engaging with employees at different levels and offering 100% variable bonus payouts along with promotions, these policies seem dud as far as lowering attrition rates is concerned. Even so that in the second quarter of the current fiscal, attrition rates increased to more than 20 % in the second quarter through September, as compared to 19.5% at the end of first quarter.
Experts however, predict that these policies would show results only from the current quarter since a company of the scale of Infosys takes time to reflect improvements, be it of any nature.
Infosys says it is confident that it will bring down it attrition rate to around 14% in the coming months. "Given the amount of emphasis we place on training, we will be comfortable if attrition is 13-15%," chief operating officer UB Pravin Rao said.
Even Wipro has put in force policies to curb employee attrition, a program called 'Notch Up' has been launched to stem experienced professionals at Wipro from leaving. The company is looking to cover upto 5000 employees in three years, by giving them opportunities to study further.
This comes at a time when IBM on the other hand, is scaling down or at-least “trimming” its India operations. Reports suggested that the IBM India, Vanitha Narayanan, was sent back to the US offices. This comes in the wake of serious changes in the way the IT business is conducted, where cheap labour is no longer a sure bet, and other surer business models are required for IT companies to compete seriously with new service providers in the tech space.
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In an unprecedented move, the central government has for the first time sought applications from the general public for the appointment of the Chief Information Commissioner (CIC), the post of which is lying vacant since August 22.
The excuse provided by the government for not appointing a CIC is the lack of an opposition leader in the Parliament (one of the three who appoints a CIC), although it is clearly stated in Section 12 of the RTI Act that. ``For the purposes of removal of doubts, it is hereby declared that where the Leader of Opposition in the House of the People has not been recognised as such, the Leader of the single largest group in opposition of the Government in the House of the People shall be deemed to be the Leader of Opposition.’’ It almost seemed as if deliberately the BJP government indulging in delay tactics.
In fact, it is the alert RTI activists from across the country who made a hue and cry about the absence of the appointment of the CIC and campaigned vociferously against the complacency of the Modi government, that now the Department of Personnel and Training has advertised widely through newspapers as well as online, inviting applications for the CIC post.
RTI activists led by Anjali Bharadwaj and Amrita Johri had initiated an online petition besides an official communication to the PM, Commodore Lokesh Batra (retd), had filed RTI applications to the PMO, seeking information on the status of the appointment of the CIC. In a reply, the CPIO had stated that the file is with the PMO and under consideration since August 1, 2014. Batra had also successfully conducted inspection of files under Section 4 of the RTI Act regarding this issue, wherein file notings were not shown to him.
It was the tremendous pressure from RTI activists and media that made the government finally relent. However, let us see the response and impact of this advertisement.
Recently, when the DoPT had advertised for the post of information commissioners, there were 553 applications and hold your breath, 233 of the applicants were government officers and 98 were lawyers. If the advertisement for recruiting the CIC from among the public is truly for bringing in a person of stature, who would not have the baggage of having served in the bureaucracy, then it is great news for RTI in the country.
Otherwise, we would be back to square one. Batra has provided the following breakup of the 553 applicants, profession wise, who had applied for the post of information commissioners:
The Category-wise breakdown of 553 APPLICANTS is :
As per section 12 of the RTI Act, ``the chief information commissioner and information commissioner shall be appointed by the President on the recommendation of a committee consisting of (i) the Prime Minister who shall be the chairperson of the committee; (ii) the leader of opposition in the Lok Sabha; and (iii) a union cabinet minister to be nominated by the Prime Minister.
Let us wait and watch this interesting experiment and finally who ends up occupying the “Transparency Chair?”