Citizens' Issues
Mukesh Ambani back on top as richest Indian in Forbes list

Ambani and Shanghvi remain the only two Indians among the top 50

 

Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani on Monday regained his position as the world's richest Indian with a net worth of $19.6 billion, pushing Sun Pharmaceuticals founder Dilip Shanghvi back to the second place after seven weeks.
 
With a fall of $100.1 million in his net worth, Ambani slipped from his 39th position in the Forbes 2015 ranking to the 47th position among the world's billionaires, while Shanghvi ($19.3 billion) with a much greater loss of $474.6 million fell to the 48th position from the 44th.
 
In a 'real time' update, the US business magazine noted that Shanghvi's net worth dip was the third biggest loss among the world's billionaires in its annual rich list.
 
Ambani and Shanghvi remain the only two Indians among the top 50.
 
In the annual list released on March 2, Forbes had ranked Ambani as the richest Indian for the eighth consecutive year.
 
In the global list, Ambani with a net worth of $21 billion was ranked 39th while Shanghvi was at the 44th place with $20 billion, based on share prices and exchange rates as on February 13.
 
However, Shanghvi overtook Ambani as the richest Indian after two days on March 4 with a sharp rally in the valuation of Sun Pharma.
 
Globally, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates continues to top the list with a current net worth of $80.3 billion, up from $79.2 billion in the annual list with Carlos Slim Helu and Warren Buffett retaining their second and third ranking, respectively.
 
According to Monday's real-time update, Ambani (47) and Shanghvi (48) are followed by Azim Premji (60), Lakshmi Mittal (85), Shiv Nadar (94), Kumar Mangalam Birla (169), Uday Kotak (200), Sunil Mittal (204), Cyrus Poonawala (220) and Gautam Adani (238) among the top 10 richest Indians.
 

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Air India shuts down 23 booking offices
India's national airline is downsizing its booking operations to bring down operating expenses and has closed down 23 such offices across India, parliament was told on Monday.
 
Minister of State for Civil Aviation Mahesh Sharma informed the Lok Sabha that Air India has closed down 23 booking offices across India, leaving 54 operational. It is also planning to reduce foreign booking offices as well.
 
The airline has arrived at this decision with a view to cutting down costs as it is plagued with a difficult financial situation, said Sharma, adding that one of the reasons is that fewer walk-in passengers book tickets at these offices and most of the bookings are being done by agents.
 
The offices shut down include those at Dehradun, Amritsar, Trichur, Udaipur, Mysore, Leh, Kanpur, Agra, Darjeeling, Surat and Allahabad.
 
Sharma said passengers can also book tickets online on the Air India website.
 
The airline shut down international booking offices in Vienna, Chittagong and Zurich in 2013-14 and offices in Tehran and Cairo are also being planned to be closed.
 
Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju said: "To maximise revenue and promote code sharing flights, there is now only a sales or representative set up at the airport at Zurich and the sales representative office at Vienna is operating from a small office space in a business centre."
 
Though Air India does not operate flights to Amsterdam, Los Angeles and Washington, it is running booking offices in these places.
 
Raju said these offices are being operated with the objective of tapping and serving Indian population, businessmen and tourists.

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Telecom services providers told to improve services

Telecom Secretary Rakesh Garg chaired the meeting with the service providers where they were apprised about the growing negative perception with regard to poor quality of telecom services in the country in general and with special emphasis on degrading quality in metros

 

The government on Monday asked the telecom service providers (TSP) to improve the quality of their services in view of increasing negative public perception in the country.
 
Telecom Secretary Rakesh Garg chaired the meeting with the service providers where they were apprised about the growing negative perception with regard to poor quality of telecom services in the country in general and with special emphasis on degrading quality in metros.
 
"It was indicated to the TSPs that the public in general is highly dissatisfied with frequent and heavy call drops during the calls throughout the day and not confined to peak calling hours which shows poor quality of the telecom networks," said an official statement from the Department of Telecommunications (DoT).
 
"The TSPs were also told about the perception of the public that such call drops are deliberate attempts by the TSPs to have multiple charging and consequent commercial gain," it added.
 
DoT said it was also noticed that the billing by TSPs is not transparent and there are frequent changes in the package rates, contrary to initial agreed upon package, without any consent of the customer.
 
All the TSPs assured to take all necessary measures to bring transparency in the billing system and to improve the overall quality of telecom services in the shortest possible time, the statement said.
 
"In case of international roaming, TSPs do not have any warning system about the tariffs to be charged for various applications," it said.
 
The TSPs assured to look into the billing complaints on priority basis and set up a transparent system to educate the customers about various tariffs being charged so that the billing complaints are minimized.
 
The TSPs also highlighted the delay in acquisition of new sites for additional towers because of fear of electro-magnetic field (EMF) radiation in the public, closure of existing tower sites because of local bodies' regulations and delay in getting permission from local bodies for laying/repair of cables etc.
 
The government also emphasized that TSPs should take further steps to educate the public about the stringent EMF norms being followed in India. It should be highlighted through seminars and public meetings that there are no harmful effects of tower radiations.

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