Citizens' Issues
Lucknow tops in issuing most passports in 2015-16
Lucknow : 'Acche din' appear to have finally arrived for passport seekers in Uttar Pradesh, Lucknow has issued the highest number of passports among all cities in the country so far in fiscal 2015-16.
 
With 13.37 lakh new passports issued in the state, India's most populous, 9.48 lakh are from the capital, a record of sorts, according to officials of the Regional Passport Office (RPO) here.
 
Major headway has been made over the year in clearing backlogs and reducing the time taken to give necessary clearances, including police verification and appointments for interviews.
 
Passport 'melas' ordered by the ministry of external affairs have been a great help, officials said.
 
Hasan Warsi, an Aligarh Muslim University student and a resident of Lucknow, says he had to go to Dubai for a college education programme and he got his passport "in a jiffy".
 
"I had heard so much negative things about the passport process and delays but was pleasantly surprised by the promptness," Warsi told IANS.
 
R.N. Rai, the Regional Passport Officer, said police had been a major help as more than 90 percent verification of passport applicants was completed within two weeks, thereby expediting an otherwise long and often much criticized process.
 
"Credit must go to police who fast-tracked the whole process," Rai added.
 
Of the 13.37 lakh passports made in Uttar Pradesh, police verification of 12 lakh was done within the stipulated 21 days, thus prompting early dispatch and delivery of the passports.
 
And police seem to have earned not only praise but moolah too. 
 
The external affairs ministry gives Rs.150 for each passport verification. This has turned into a windfall for the Uttar Pradesh Police in the current fiscal when it raked in Rs.19 crore, another record.
 
The earning for police earlier averaged Rs.6-7 crore.
 
Bareilly and Ghaziabad passport offices have chipped in with 3.89 lakh passports. Special work is on at the passport offices in Gorakhpur, Kanpur and Varanasi so that they do not lag behind, an official said.
 
Lucknow has also the topped the regional passport offices across the country in issuing most passports in the current fiscal.
 
Hyderabad is second at 7.60 lakh passports and Bengaluru third with 6.33 lakh. They are followed by Kolkata (6.13 lakh), Ahmedabad (5.66 lakh) and Delhi (5.06 lakh).
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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E-commerce to offer highest pay hikes in 2016: Survey
New Delhi : Talent, recruitment and health solutions player Aon Hewitt on Wednesday said e-commerce industry leads its annual salary increase survey in India by forecasting a projected salary hike of 15.6 percent for the industry in 2016.
 
E-commerce is followed by Life Sciences with 11.6 percent projected salary increases, Media (Electronic and Print) with 11.2 percent and IT with 10.8 percent.
 
"The 'Early stage companies/Start Ups' stand out despite being in the pre-profit stage for over three years and continue to have an aggressive stand on pay," said Aon Hewitt in a statement.
 
Other industries with a projected salary hike of 10 percent or more include Consumer products 10.8 percent, Automobile manufacturing and Retail 10.7 percent, Chemicals 10.7 percent, IT Enabled Service (ITES) 10.3 percent, Engineering/Manufacturing 1.3 percent and Engineering Services 10.2 percent.
 
Drawing inferences from the survey which studied data from 700 companies, Aon Hewitt highlighted that corporate India is taking a pragmatic approach towards pay increases.
 
"Indian companies are taking very clear steps to arrest the steady increase in compensation budgets. The lower inflation rates in the economy has also helped companies in deciding on the reduced salary increases without creating too much of a disruption in the lives of employees," said Aon Hewitt partner Anandorup Ghose in a statement.
 
According to the survey, many industries took a marginal dip in their overall budgets compared to the actual spends of 2015.
 
Life Sciences, Media and Consumer Products industries have projected higher salary increase than the market average, a trend consistent with them since 2012, the statement said.
 
Financial Institutions featured at the bottom of the survey with a projected salary increase of 8.8 percent.
 
Other industries with the low pay hikes include Metals 9.3 percent, Telecom Services and Transportation/Logistics/Shipping Services 9.7 percent, Cement and RE & Infrastructure 9.8 percent and Hospitality & QSR and Energy (Oil/Gas/Coal/Power) 9.9 percent.
 
The survey highlighted companies are focusing on performance and reserving a larger proportion of the budget to high performers.
 
While investment on key talent has emerged as the major trend this year which includes high potential and hot skills apart from high performers.
 
Interestingly, the percentage of top performing employees has dropped by 30 percent in the past five years.
 
"At an average pay increase budget of 10.3 percent across India, HR managers will be pushed to ensure they are being more innovative and thoughtful in how they reward their top performers while ensuring they are able to retain and motivate the rest of the organisation as well," added Bose in the statement.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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PACL Scam: India seeks to freeze assets worth $130 million in Australia
Indian authorities, probing the Rs55,000 crore PACL scam, are likely to request Australian authorities to freeze assets bought by the company there, by funnelling investors' money
 
Indian authorities are likely to meet Australian Federal Police over next the few days and request them to freeze assets in that country related with PACL Ltd, formerly known as Pearl Agrotech that were bought with more than $130 million funnelled by the company and its founder Nirmal Singh Bhangoo, reveals a report from The Australian. 
 
The report says, "The source at India's Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) said the agency had not yet contacted its counterparts in Australia to have Pearls assets in Australia frozen. However, the meeting scheduled for next week, a committee headed by the former chief justice of India, RM Lodha, will meet to discuss what to do next. It will decide what directions are given to the CBI and to the corporate regulator, the Securities Exchange Board of India (SEBI)."
 
Separately, SEBI said it has constituted a three-member Committee as per the directions from the Supreme Court. The Committee would be headed by Justice RM Lodha, and will have S Raman, Whole Time Member of SEBI and Amit Pradhan, Chief General Manager and Regional Director for North at SEBI, as members. The Committee would dispose land purchased by PACL so that the sale proceeds can be paid to the investors, who have invested their funds in the Company for purchase of the land, SEBI said in a release.

The market regulator has also appointed Rakesh Kumar Singh, Deputy General Manager, as Nodal Officer-cum-Secretary of the Committee.
 
The assets, which are likely to be frozen, include the Gold Coast Sheraton Mirage Resort, which Pearls Australasia bought for $62 million in 2009 and spent about $20 million renovating. PACL which has been asked to repay about Rs55,000 crore by the Indian regulators, also paid almost $300,000 to cricketer Brett Lee to promote its Ponzi scheme, the report says.
 
A police source from the Indian Central Bureau of Investigation told The Australian yesterday that "Rs1.4 crores" was sent by Pearls to a company called Insite Organisation in Sydney in 2011.
 
A source at SEBI told the newspaper that the Lodha committee could direct authorities to instigate a freeze of Pearls' assets in Australia at this meeting and at present, the investigations are focused in and around India.
 
Police have also discovered more than 66 office buildings in Delhi's prestigious Connaught Place and hundreds of hectares of land held under shell companies.
 
Neil Maxwell, who was until recently Lee's manager, is a founding director of Insite (now called Hoatson Maxwell) and Lee's brother, Shane, is a former company director. Maxwell confirmed the $300,000 payment yesterday, saying that he and Lee had been introduced to Pearls Group in India by Austrade, the report says.
 
Maxwell was quoted by the newspaper as saying, "It was a referral from an Australian government body and if police want to discuss it, I will talk with them."
 
Maxwell told The Australian that he was no longer able to speak on behalf of Lee and the cricketer's new-manager, Jake Elder, told the newspaper that the cricketer had no comment to make regarding the Pearls’ matter.
 
In 2010, PACL roped in Australian speedster Brett Lee as its brand ambassador. During a press conference announcing his appointment, Lee had reportedly said, "It's not about only being a brand ambassador, but I am proud to be a family member of Pearls Group. I feel every person is being touched by Pearls around the world. I certainly believe that Pearls is the best."
 
In the advertising campaign, Lee was filmed building sandcastles with kids and jogging on a beach in Goa. "He stood in front of a camera dressed in a white sports coat and recited the firm's mantra: 'Touching hearts, building confidence. Pearls Infrastructure', the news report says.
 
The Australian had reported that on the website Brett-Lee.net Pearls was listed as one of the companies Lee was endorsing. However, it appears that brettlee.com.au is his official website and Pearls is no longer endorsed on this site, the report says.

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COMMENTS

D S Ranga Rao

10 months ago

Welcome news. But still, it appears that the regulating bodies like various nationalized banks, RBI, SEBI, DRI, etc., much older than the cheat firm, PACL, have not yet learnt the norm:"A stitch in time, saves nine". Unless such white collar crimes are nipped in the bud, any amount of fire fighting afterwards amounts only to crying over the spilt milk. Let the government recover the lost money from the pockets of those officials of the aforesaid agencies who stood by the PACL like the blind, deaf and dumb lot and pay back to the investors.

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