Sunday, 29 April 2018

‘Ujwala’ enables villages with gas connections

Dignitaries present when 100 houses were provided gas connections 
through Sinhagad Road’s Shriram gas agency and Ambi village’s 
Grampanchayat through Ujwala plus program.

PUNE: Utilizing wood as a burning component in kitchens affects women’s health. This has caused increment in number of women experiencing throat, eyes, lungs and heart issues. The Ujjawala program has been started in the nation to maintain a strategic distance from these issues caused by smoke and make women more competent.

Through the Ujjawala program, in excess of 3 crore houses have been given gas associations and the administration aims at another 5 crore houses. The thought process of the Ujjawala development is to make towns consuming no wood, cited Food and common supplies' minister Girish Bapat.

He spoke while 100 houses were provided gas connections by him through Sinhagad Road’s Shriram gas agency and Ambi village’s Grampanchayat through Ujjawala program. The event witnessed presence of MLA Bhimrao Tapkir, sarpanch Pushpa Nivangune, Rajendra Nivangune, Balasaheb Pasalkar, Tanaji More, Shriram Gas agency’s Mayuresh Joshi, Uday Joshi along with many other dignitaries.

Girish Bapat said, alike Ujjawala program there are more than 120 programs of central government, more than 100 of state government and close to 25 initiated by Pune district. Each villager must take the benefit of these programs initiated by the administration. No plans can be executed single handedly; it requires people’s participation and support to make them reach every corner of the country.

Police book builders for duping over 50 homebuyers


PUNE: The Kondhwa Police booked two builders for allegedly cheating over 50 people on the pretext of selling them plots for constructing bungalows at Pisoli since 2015.

The suspects had forged documents to cheat homebuyers. The fraud came to light after one of the investors, Ajit Rajan Kulkarni (36) from Thane, lodged an FIR against the builders.

In his complaint, Kulkarni, an engineer, said he resided at Dattanagar on Ambegaon Road before shifting to Kanjurmarg in Mumbai. He was planning to invest in a property in Pune when he came across an advertisement published in a newspaper announcing the launch of a new housing scheme at Pisoli.

According to the complaint, Kulkarni visited the office of the construction site in 2015 and a sales representative gave him information about the project. He was told by builders and his representatives that 100 plots had been put up for sale, out of which 50 had been booked.

Since Kulkarni liked the project, he decided to purchase a plot measuring 1,037sqft for the construction of a bungalow at a cost of Rs 55 lakh. He paid booking charges of Rs10 lakh by issuing a cheque of Rs 5 lakh each on April 13 and May 20, 2015, in the presence of his father Rajan and brother Amol.

Kulkarni and one of the two builders, who run independent construction firms, signed a memorandum of understanding on a stamp paper of Rs 500. The MoU was signed in the presence of Kulkarni’s wife Manju but the project work did not commence even after two-three months.

According to the complaint, when Kulkarni visited the office of the construction firm, a sales representative told him that the work of obtaining necessary permission was in progress and the construction work would start at the earliest.

Kulkarni was given the same assurance on numerous occasions. He made several attempts to get in touch with the builders but in vain. After collecting information about the project, Kulkarni learned that the land where the proposed project was planned did not belong to the builders and that they had forged documents to cheat him and other homebuyers.

Regarding the delay in lodging the FIR, Kulkarni told over phone, “We were given assurance time and again that the construction work will start but the builders failed to honour their promise.”

Senior inspector Milind Gaikwad of the Kondhwa police said, “The home buyers did not verify the genuineness of the construction firm and project before investing their hard earned money in it. An investigation has been started. We are yet to arrest the builders,” he added.

PMC schools to run junior colleges from 2018-19


PUNE: Starting from the 2018-19 academic year, civic schools will run junior colleges for all the three streams - arts, science and commerce.

The Plus Two classes would be run on self-finance basis, the education board of Pune Municipal Corporation said. The civic body has invited applications from non-profit educational organisations to run the classes.

Deepak Mali, the education officer (secondary and technical) at PMC, said educational institutions willing to run the classes would be provided classrooms in the existing schools. All other expenses would be borne by the organisation running the first-year junior college.

In March, PMC had invited proposals from educational institutions to run classes for Standard XI and XII. PMC currently has 43 schools running classes up to Standard X. “In the first phase, we will identify the schools that require FYJC and based on the demand we will extend the classes,” Mali said.

In some PMC schools, the classes are run from Standard I to VIII, while in others, the classes are run from Standard VIII to X. PMC runs schools in English, Urdu and Marathi mediums and corporators had demanded that the PMC commissioner extended the classes till Standard XII.

Mali said, “The plan is to start classes from the coming academic year for all the three streams. Since there is a lot of investment involved in running the classes and in paying for the salaries of teachers and others, it was not possible to do so with the PMC’s budget. As such, a decision was taken to involve educational institutions to run the classes.”

Educational institutions willing to run FYJC in PMC schools will have to fulfil 15 parameters laid down by PMC to be able to table proposals. The organisations should have a minimum of two years’ experience in running classes from VIII to X and also needs to be financially sound.

PMC would enter into a 10-year contract with the organisation, which will have to make a deposit of Rs 10 lakh with the civic body. The organisation will have to impart free education to students of classes XI and XII and make available facilities such as laboratory, computers, library and internet service.

KCB acts tough on gyms, to seal one


PUNE: The Khadki Cantonment Board (KCB) decided to seal a gymnasium operating at Range Hills and sought requisite documents for the contract renewal of five other facilities operating within in its jurisdiction.

A decision to this effect was taken at the board’s general body meeting. According to a report tabled by the KCB’s nominated member, Colonel A S Katiyar, the gymnasiums neither had proper documents nor were following the norms set by the board.

The move to seal the gymnasium evoked a sharp reaction from a section of the board members, who staged a walk out. There were heated arguments between KCB vice-president Abhay Sawant and member Suresh Kamble on one side, and member Vaishali Pahilwan. KCB CEO Amol Jagtap intervened and convinced protesting members to attend the meeting. These members were insisting on constituting a panel to study the issue before taking a final call.

KCB president Brigadier Dhiraj Mohan informed members that operators would have to submit their documents and renew contracts in a month. “It’s a long pending matter and a decision was imperative to send a stern message to those not paying attention to the norms. We can’t leave the matter pending for long,” Mohan said in his reply to the board.

According to Sawant, KCB authorities never asked for such documents in the past. A nominated member countered this by pointing out that as per the terms and conditions, it was mandatory for gym operators to renew their contracts annually. “If not, they should be closed,” the member said.

Ministry rejects plea for ‘deemed’ status


PUNE: College of Engineering Pune (CoEP) has been denied the deemed-to-be-university status by the ministry of human resource development. However, college authorities said it is a misinterpretation and they have sent an appeal for a review.

The ministry’s letter on February 22, 2018 says, “CoEP neither fulfills eligibility conditions of UGC regulations 2010 nor 2016. Therefore, in exercise of the powers conferred under section 3 of the UGC Act 1956, the application for conferment of Deemed to be University status to the CoEP has been rejected.”

CoEP’s director BB Ahuja said, “We have been denied the status on the grounds that we don’t have a UGC granted centre with potential of excellence with a grant of Rs 1.5 core yet. However, we have two centres with potential of excellence granted HRD ministry with a Rs 5 crore funding from World Bank. Hence, this is a matter of misinterpretation. We have written to the ministry stating that we have the centres.”

Marks of Pune SRPF candidates fabricated too


PUNE: The Nanded police probing the recruitment scam have found that the arrested suspects, who were employees of Pune-based SSG Softwares, used similar modus operandi to manipulate the answersheets of 30 candidates during the recruitment of Group II of State Reserve Police Force (SRPF) conducted at Wanorie, Pune.

During the recently conducted police recruitment drive, SSG Softwares had bagged the contract for scanning the answer-sheets of candidates from Nanded and four SRPF units, including Pune-based group II.

According to the police, the arrested suspects have said that an employee of another private company had helped them bag the contract to scan optical mark recognition for SRPF group-II. They then - managed to fudge the scores of 30 candidates appearing for the SRPF recruitment drive.

Nanded superintendent of police Chandra Kishore Mina told, “During the interrogation, the employees of SSG softwares, who are under arrest, have confessed that an employee of another private firm helped them bag the work of OMR scanning. They then manipulated 30 answer sheets of candidates at SRPF group II.”

The police are corroborating the confessions with different pieces of evidences being collected. “So far, 10 candidates, a couple of staffers belonging to SSG softwares and one of the two middlemen, have been arrested. In this case, both the middlemen are employed with the SRPF units situated at Aurangabad and Jalna, respectively. We are on the lookout of others,” said Mina.

A couple of days ago, the Nanded police bust a racket during the ongoing recruitment for 69 posts of constables. For the past four years, SSG Softwares has been assisting the Nanded police with its recruitment process by scanning the answer-sheets.

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Pune to get 12 exclusive e-toilets for women

The e-toilet is an electronically run facility, where use of a coin
allows access and the toilets itself are GPS-enabled.

PUNE: In a ‘smart’ expansion of the city’s public amenities, mainly targeted at female convenience, the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) has decided to build 14 ‘e-toilets’ at different locations in the city.

The e-toilet is an electronically run facility, where use of a coin allows access and the toilets itself are GPS-enabled. The toilet blocks are built entirely out of stainless steel. The toilets come in two sizes; the small size costing Rs 9,96,000 to build, per unit; and the larger size costing Rs 18,48,000. Twelve of these 14 toilets will be exclusively for women, according to PMC officials.

The different locations in the city include JM road, FC road, Model colony, Tukainagar and Gokhalenagar. The PMC has not released all the public locations yet. Two of the e-toilets will be constructed exclusively for police personnel and are likely to be at the Shivajinagar police quarters.

The contract to build the toilets has been awarded to Erum Scientific Solutions. Addressing a press conference, Yogesh Mulik, standing committee chairman, said, “Funds needed for the project will come from the funds allocated to the city’s member of Parliament (Anile Shirole).”

“Following a proper procedure of awarding the tenders, the work has been contracted,” said Mulik, adding, “To operate the facility, an individual must use a coin which can be of any value.”

Teacher held for abducting, marrying teen for a son


PUNE: A married, Zilla Parishad school teacher (45) was arrested by the Sangvi police on Monday for Kidnapping and forcibly marrying a 19-year-old woman earlier this year, in March.

It has been revealed that the teacher, who has a 14-year-old daughter from his first marriage, was driven by a desire to have a son, and the kidnap and the forced wedding were means to fulfil that desire. The 19-year-old said her parents too were hand-in-glove with the suspect and had got her married to the teacher to pay off their debts.

Apart from the teacher, the Sangvi police have also arrested the young woman’s parents, the teacher’s first wife and others. The names have been withheld on request from police officials. A police team, comprising deputy commissioner of police (Zone III) Ganesh Shinde, assistant commissioner Vikram Patil and senior inspector Ajay Chandkhede, nabbed the teacher from his house at Yermala, in Osmanabad.

The woman, who was kept in confinement at Yermala, had first used her cell phone to prepare a video clip narrating how she was forced to marry the suspect. She managed to send the clip to the local police authorities, who rescued her. The woman then went to her parental home on April 10. However, she found no support from her parents, who instead wanted her to return to the teacher. Finally, on April 20, the woman and reported the matter to Sangvi police, and a case was registered against the teacher and 14 others.

Police said the teacher’s family members wanted him to have a son and were looking to get him married again. Their search brought them into contact with the woman’s parents in Pune. They offered to repay a Rs 5 lakh loan that the woman's father had taken and even buy the family a house - in exchange for his daughter. Police made the arrest under Sections 366, 384 and 385 of the Indian Penal Code.

`Loose rules' led to Facebook data leak, says SAS chief

Jim Goodnight


PUNE (DENVER): Data analytics major SAS Institute chief Jim Goodnight has blamed "very very loose rules and regulations" at Facebook for the breach of personal data of millions of users.

Amid a global furore over breach of personal data of tens of millions of Facebook users, including in India, Goodnight said although all technology companies have obligation to protect personal information they have collected on their consumers, most of them are careless about it.

A pioneer in data analytics, the North Carolina-based SAS Institute has annual revenue of over USD 3.2 billion. "I think Facebook just had very, very loose rules and regulations about what they would permit and what they don't, because that is how they are making money. "... in short, technology companies have been very loose with the data they have collected on individuals," Goodnight, who is the company's co-founder and chief executive, told reporters in an interview here.

He was speaking on the sidelines of the SAS Global Forum here, which was held from April 8-11. At SAS, he said they always make sure that all any personalised data is completely encrypted so that none can break in. However, he said he is against any government interference or regulations. "I would hate to see the European Union's general data privacy protection-type regulations imposed in the US because I don't like any kind of regulations. I hope it does not get us to wrestle like in Europe," the septuagenarian said.

About India's biometric identification system Aadhaar, Goodnight said the country would have to ensure that individual's data is not breached and cited the example of the US where there is a lot of regulation to protect data related to social security numbers. Regarding SAS India business, he said the Indian arm continues to grow. "We have done very well in India so far. Banks are getting bigger, companies are getting bigger and it is still a growing market for us".

He also said the company would continue to increase its R&D staff at Pune. SAS has offices in New Delhi, Pune, Mumbai and Bengaluru. Defending artificial intelligence, amidst concerns that the technology might impact jobs, Goodnight said, "I think people skilled at or familiar with AI will be preferred over others. So hiring will continue to happen but of those with better tech capabilities" Goodnight also predicted that when it comes to mobility, the future would be in self-driving cars.

"We will see more development in the area of self-driving cars. Within 10 years every car will be self-driven. I hope there will be official requirement that there has to be some specific number of self-driving cars. "After all we all would be safer than we are now. With distracted humans driving, I think, I would rather prefer a computer that is not distracted while driving. There are still some glitches to work out but they are making a lot of progress," the SAS chief concluded.

At the forum, the company had announced creation of a new division to fight frauds and cybercrimes globally, using artificial intelligence and advanced analytics.

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Sexting among kids on the rise


PUNE: Sujatha, mother of a Standard VII student, was shocked finding “sexual messages” on her son’s cellphone. Going through various messaging apps on his smartphone, she realized that her 14-year-old son had been sending and receiving messages with sexual overtone for a while.

Perplexed how her son would react if she broached the matter with him right away, she called up her husband. “I was at a loss for words. I did not want to give my son the impression that I was snooping on him. I sought the help of a psychologist, who advised me to have a ‘frank talk’ with the boy and tell him about the repercussions of indulging in such things,” Sujatha said.

A recent report published in JAMA Paediatrics, a medical journal of the American Medical Association, analysed 39 studies with a total of about 10,300 teenagers (under the age of 18 years). It found sexting - sending or receiving sexually explicit or suggestive images, messages, or video via cellphones or the internet - had become common in recent years. Though the majority of teenagers did not report sexting, 15% said they had sent sexts, while 27% accepted of receiving them.

The situation is no different among Indian kids, clinical psychologist Ishita Sur, currently based in Atlanta in the US, said. “Such behaviour is highly prevalent among higher middle class kids, especially those hitting the puberty. Children as young as eight are susceptible to sexting,” she said.

So, what prompts children to sext? Sur said, “It could be peer pressure or sheer adventure element on their part. It could also be impulsiveness, the belief that by doing so they will appear ‘mature’ or it could just be the thinking that it is the way of life.”

A 35-year-old IT professional blamed herself and her busy schedule after finding her child sexting. “When I saw some messages filled with sexual innuendo on my child’s phone, I could not help but blame myself,” she said.

Blaming self is no solution. Satarupa Anderson, a psychologist-cum-educationist, said, “More than anything else, parents need to be counselled and educated about the internet use in today’s society as they can play a proactive role in educating their kids about the ramifications of their online behaviour.”

Anderson said sending or receiving messages or images, including nudes, can come back to haunt the kids later in the life. “It can lead to blackmail, extreme embarrassment or humiliation, trust issues and disappointment for family members. Therefore, parents need to monitor their kids and have frank talks with them time and again,” she added.

Having at least one meal a day together can be one of the best solutions to the problem. “Sit together and talk about what everyone did the entire day. Ask children if they would like to share any problems and raise any questions. Take them into confidence and talk to them about various subjects, including the virtual world and topics concerning sexual development, considering that the internet gives children access to literary and graphic material that is harmful,” Ashley Eates, an educationist, said.

Easy and unmonitored internet access could be one of the reasons behind sexting, he said. “Social disconnect and fixation to virtual world are the real problems. We come across kids sitting in a corner and glued to their cellphones even when they have their peers or family members in the same room,” Eates said, adding that it becomes the responsibility of the parents to ensure that they are always available for their children, no matter what.

Psychiatrist Bhooshan Shukla attributes the rise in sexting to early exposure to sexual content and intimacy among children. “Even the sexual overtones in the songs, which they are made to dance during functions are partly responsible,” he said, adding that all these eventually creep into the behaviour of children over time. “Sexting is a part of the bigger problem and we are all to blame for it,” Shukla said. 

Some parents fear that their kids might land in legal trouble if found sexting. But legal experts said those below the age of 18 years are considered “people in need of care and protection” and cannot be prosecuted.

“If the other person who the child is sending or receiving sexts is a major, h/she can be tried under the relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code, Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act and even Information Technology Act,” lawyer Asim Sarode said.

Swargate hub work to begin next month: MahaMetro


PUNE: Work on the Swargate Multimodal transport hub will begin next month, the Maharashtra Metro Rail Ltd Corporation (MahaMetro) said. Officials further said MahaMetro was in the process of finalizing the details of the project, which will be executed in two phases.

The first phase will involve construction of an underground Metro station, parking lots, a PMPML bus station, and bays for vehicles like auto rickshaws and app-based taxi services. It is estimated to cost Rs 200 crore. Work will begin on a plot of land owned by PMC’s water department, located near Swargate chowk on the road to Sarasbaug.

MahaMetro said the PMPML’s existing bus terminus at Swargate will have to be shifted to an alternative location and that talks were underway with Pune Municipal Corporation and PMPML to shift it to an open plot in the vicinity. The bidding process will be done over the next few days, after which the work will start.

“The transport hub is essential to reduce traffic problems in Swargate and Jedhe Chowk areas, which daily witness daily traffic 1.5 lakh vehicles and peak-hour frequency of 10,000 vehicles,” MahaMetro chief Brijesh Dixit said while addressing a press conference.

Twenty-three acres of land will be needed for the project, of which the 7.5 acres required for the first phase are in MahaMetro’s possession. The plan also includes provision of two roads the movement of buses, Dixit said. MahaMetro also plans to allow commercial activity by increasing the number of floors of the hub. Plans will be firmed up later, jointly with PMC, MSRTC and PMPML. Officials also said there will be no immediate impact on traffic as work has first been planned in a closed-off area near Jedhe chowk.

NOCs must for construction within 20-m of corridor


PUNE: The Maharashtra Metro Rail Corporation said no-objection certificates (NOCs) will be required for redevelopment and construction projects within 20 m of the Metro route and stations on both sides.

The Pune Municipal Corporation, on receipt of an application seeking building permission, will approach MahaMetro for the NOC. Permissions would be granted after checking certain aspects of the project, such as structural design and foundation, MahaMetro officials said.

The officials said that the Metro Act has a provision making it mandatory to obtaining such NOCs. “The provision is in place to avoid any mishaps during Metro work. The NOCs will be granted to PMC, not individuals,” an official explained.

In Pune, MahaMetro is working on two Metro corridors. The Metro rail will run through the city’s central areas.

eLMNOP Connecting School Bagged Top rank in Huddle

Santosh Talaghatti with Dianne Dain, Head
United Nations TechnologyInnovation Lab and associates


PUNE: Edtech Start up ‘eLMNOP - global Classrooms’ got ranked among Top 10 innovative start-ups of India at Asia’s largest start-up congregation Huddle 2018, event that took place recently in Trivandrum Kerala.

Santosh Talaghatti, Founder ‘eLMNOP’ Startup, with more than a decade experience in connecting rural schools in India, continues his meaningful journey with the aim of improving the quality in education by connecting them with global experts through Global Classrooms Master Sessions Model.

Santosh Talaghatti was invited to represent Maharashtra eLMNOP Start up to 2000 entrepreneurs across the world. Dignitaries like Pinarayi Vijayan, the chief minister of Kerala and Sheikh Fahim Bin Sultan Al Qasimi were the honourable invitees of the event. There were 30 informative sessions by combined effort of 40 speakers at this prestigious Start up Summit.

The initiative is envisaged to provide a platform for start-ups to pitch their products and interact with a wide array of technology and industry leaders from all around the world. Entrepreneurs, investors, academicians and industry leaders attended the event during these 30 sessions while the most important 40 presentations were exposed by the best representative’s public speakers of all start ups. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan inaugurated the conclave organised by the Kerala Startup Mission (KSUM) in association with Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI).

The EPCES implements PMO’s vision of ‘Digital India’


PUNE: With a view to better and effectively serve all its pan-india based members, Export Promotion Council of India SEZ and EOU (EPCES) has launched a new membership software application The key highlight of the new IT framework, a first of its kind initiative ever introduced by EPCES is that showcases a membership dashboard that would henceforth make it very convenient for EPCES members to digitally interact with the EPCES. 

In addition to not just contributing to the cause of a paper-free green environment and  providing a better, user friendly interface that offers easy access to information, the new system would also facilitate faster data collection for survey and feedback on policies. Backed by this enhanced IT capability, the EPCES envisions a reduction in the delays in paperwork from an earlier norm of 20 days to 2 hours hereon.

Fully secured with latest encryption technologies, the new system would be instrumental in facilitating tasks such as renewing their membership, applying for new membership or to downloading their membership certificates i.e. RCMC online – all now made available at the click of a mouse, accessible from any corner of the country. The new enrolments and renewals for the year 2018-19 will hence do away with any paper application of any kind. Step by step tutorials are also made available on the membership link for the benefit of SEZ/EOU fraternity.

Terming the current Govt’s push on the Digital India mission, the key inspiration behind the industry body’s unique initiative, Dr. Vinay Sharma, Officiating Chairman EPCES said, “Digitization is the need of the hour and the PMO has rightly identified its critical role. In today’s times of cut-throat competition, the industry needs to save on precious time and this endeavour aimed at reducing time lag in availing various facilities is a much-needed step towards actualizing a better ecosystem, one with an enhanced ease of doing business in its truest sense.”

Henceforth, on receipt of any payment now made digitally by any EPCES member the EPCES accounts department after confirming the receipt of the same, would share a computer generated receipt and an invoice with the SEZ member in question. Following this, once the complete details of the member/SEZ unit and required documents are uploaded, the same will be then verified.

Thereafter, the member would receive an email alert stating that their membership certificate is ready and available for further downloading. Highlighting the utility of the move, Dr. Vinay Sharma added: “A proper digitalization plan can help reinvent processes, improve quality and promote consistency. Together with these objectives, our this endeavour is aimed at saving paper, environment, hassles of posting the applications, precious time of Development Commissioner’s office in accepting and forwarding applications, speedy issue of the certificate and, moreover, keeping data in digital format for easy reference and re-call.

This will also help the members in timely submission of their claims for exemption, concessions and duty drawback from the Government.” There are approximately 7000 EOUs, SEZ and SEZ Developers across the country, out of which approximately 3000 EOUs, SEZ Units and SEZ Developers are enrolled with EPCES. Earlier, members used to submit their applications with either the office of the Development Commissioner or at EPCES Head office or EPCES Regional Office and the whole procedure, right from collection of papers, followed by their due scrutiny by various concerned offices till the ultimate issuance of membership certificate used to take approximately 15 to 20 days. Now, with the new Membership Software Application in place, the time taken for such tasks would be reduced significantly.

Hero, Honda may hike bike, scooters prices


PUNE (MUMBAI): Two of India’s biggest two-wheeler makers, orp aHero MotoCnd Honda Motorcycle & Scooter India (HMSI), may hike prices of their motorcycles and scooters to offset the impact from a rise in raw material costs.

The possible hike comes shortly after TVS Motor Company and Bajaj Auto, the country’s third and fourth largest two-wheeler firms respectively, raised prices earlier this month. Hero had earlier raised prices in January by an average of Rs 400 per model across motorcycles to partially offset rising input costs.

“There is pressure from commodity prices. We are closely watching the rise in prices," said YS Guleria, Sr. VP Sales & Marketing, HMSI. Chennai-based TVS Motors had cashed in on the new found success of the Apache RR 310 to raise its prices by around Rs 8000. The motorcycle is the costliest product from the company at Rs 2.13 lakh (ex-showroom, Mumbai).

At the same time, it had reduced the prices of its struggling product Wego by Rs 2,000 in the hope to position it more competitively. The company had merely stated that the hike was not across all products but only select models.

Pune-based Bajaj Auto raised its prices by a maximum of Rs 2,000 which was seen on the Dominar. This was followed by a hike in prices of the Pulsar RS 200, Avenger 220, Pulsar NS 200, V15 and Platina.

Two-wheeler companies are finding it difficult to contain raw material costs which have been steadily rising since the past few quarters. In addition the robust rise in volumes in recent months has given the confidence to these companies to initiate a hike.

As per data supplied by the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) two wheeler volumes jumped 15 per cent last year to cross 20 million for the first time ever as compared to 17.58 million units clocked in 2016-17.

A stronger ramp up in production aided by steady introduction of new and updated models has helped the industry clock healthy volume growth. Other two-wheeler makers such as Royal Enfield, Yamaha and Suzuki will likely follow suit and raise prices accordingly.

Monday, 23 April 2018

Barclays inks deal in Pune for largest office


PUNE (MUMBAI): British banking giant Barclays has struck a deal with K Raheja Corp to lease 1.1 million sq ft new office in Pune, possibly its single-biggest facility outside the Canary Wharf headquarters in London, people directly aware of the matter said.

The new built-to-suit office space will accommodate the back office work - Barclays Global Services Centre - supporting the bank’s investment and retail banking operations globally. The facility will have more than 8,000 people in the Kharadi suburbs of Pune when fully built.

The new office will consolidate existing teams of the global services centre in Pune, besides adding some new hires. The Indian back-office functions of Barclays are spread across Pune, Noida and Chennai. Barclays will pay annual lease rental of around Rs 80 crore (or $12 million) after having struck the deal at about Rs 60 per sq ft, sources said.

A formal announcement on the office deal, advised by JLL, is expected on Monday morning. The Barclays deal is one of the biggest office leasing activities nationally in recent times, and the largest in Pune till date. “We are constantly looking at ways by which to deliver the best outcome for our colleagues, customers and clients. India is a crucial component of our growth plan and we remain deeply committed to growing our business and presence here,” a Barclays spokesperson said.

Barclays is taking up space in Gera Commerzone, an IT Special Economic Zone jointly built by K Raheja and Pune-based Gera Developments. The decade-old Barclays Global Service Centre offers technology and operations solutions to the bank’s business spread across 40 markets globally. It runs large centres at Edinburgh in UK and the US as well.

Sunday, 22 April 2018

Pune couple sells jewellery for Siachen soldiers


PUNE: Maintaining vigil at the world's highest battleground - situated at 6,700 m - is a test of human endurance against frosty winds, tough terrain, massive expanses of snowfields, crevasses, and thin oxygen levels.

As Indian soldiers pant for breath at the 76-km-long Siachen glacier, a Pune couple has decided to contribute to the construction of an oxygen plant at 13,000 feet. Sumeedha and Yogesh Chithade have set an example by selling their jewellery to raise Rs 1.25 lakh for the oxygen-generation plant, which would cost around Rs 1.10 crore.

Sumeedha, the mother of a serving army major, even sold her earrings. She believes that charity begins at home - for she considers the army as her family. "I have been working for army welfare since 1999. When I was at the Siachen base camp, I realised the climate there is extremely harsh. Even in summers, the temperature is at -35 degrees [Celsius] and it drops to -55 in winters. Our soldiers, who plod through 35-40 feet deep snow at the risk of developing snow blindness and frost bite, are lonely and cut off from their families and friends," Sumeedha said.

This plant will be used to refill oxygen cylinders used by the Army. "It is so easy for us to breathe here, but at 22,000 feet, it is extremely difficult to breathe. I have not sold every ornament, but made a beginning. I will contribute more if required," said the school teacher.

The Chithades have formed a charitable trust and registered it with the Charity Commissioner Office in Pune. There are five other trustees, who also want to contribute money. Yogesh, who took premature retirement from the Indian Air Force, mentions some advantages of having the plant. "Oxygen cylinders brought from Chandigarh are delivered at 22,000 feet. At times, there are no copters to deliver cylinders. When the plant comes up, transportation cost and time will be reduced," he says.

"The plant will benefit around 9,000 soldiers, who are doing a great sacrifice by guarding our borders in that area," Yogesh says. "Other families should contribute too, at least Re 1 each," adds Yogesh.

Doctors booked for selling fake diploma certificates


PUNE: Three doctors were booked for offering diploma certificate in naturopathy in exchange of money in Pune. They were identified as doctors Machindra Agwan, Vishwajeet Chavan and Ratnaparkhi Aurangabad. They also allegedly offered to provide other degrees to the complainant in the case.

The racket came to light after Abhishek Subhash Haridas, 36, a private tutor and an activist, came across a website called which was instrumental in providing fake certification in naturopathy.

A human rights protection and awareness activist, Haridas, got in touch with the head of the institute, Dr Agwan, pretending to be a seeker of the said diploma. Dr Agwan allegedly told Haridas that the diploma is government approved and that he could even add the honorofic of "Dr" next to his name with the diploma.

Dr Agwan called Haridas to Kannad region of Aurangabad, Maharashtra to discuss further details. Haridas landed up at the given address along with his colleague Vilas Kuchekar and two reporters identified as Sunil Jagtap and Sahil Kamble on April 10. Upon meeting, the doctor asked for Rs 47,600 in order to finish procedures, including a fee of Rs 13,600 payable to the government, according to the complaint.

When the four proposed to pay with a cheque, Dr Agwan refused and asked them to get in touch with doctors at the organisation's Pune office. He connected them to three other doctors, including Dr Chavan, who met them at his own residence in Bhusari colony, Kothrud on April 15.

Dr Chavan showed them copies of diploma in naturopathy (NC) awarded through their website to earlier seekers. He asked for Rs 10,000 for the process and shared bank account details in order to complete the process. He then told them that Bachelor of Alternative Medical System (BASM) and Bachelor of Naturopathy and Yoga Science (BNYS) degrees can also be provided in a similar fashion after a few months.

A case under Sections 420 (cheating), 419 (personation), 511 (attempting to commit offences punishable with imprisonment for life) and 34 (common intention) of the Indian Penal Code was registered against the three doctors at Kothrud police station. Police sub-inspector (PSI) Digambar Jakhade of Kothrud police station is investigating the case.

If you are drunk this car will not start


PUNE: If you are drunk and trying to drive, your vehicle will not start. Uttarakhand researchers have developed a new technology from waste that will prevent vehicles from operating if the driver is drunk.

The Uttarakhand Residential University in Almora and Haldwani-based RI Instruments and Innovation India have jointly produced a device that will make driving difficult if the driver is in an inebriated condition or feeling drowsy or is speaking on the mobile phone.

A team comprising R.P. Joshi, Akash Pandey and Kuldeep Patel developed a prototype that will be based on graphene generated from waste products and wild grasses as one of the components. Graphene has an important role in the device as graphene-coated electrodes can catalyse the process of oxidation of ethyl alcohol into acetic acid. The concentration of alcohol will automatically disconnect the device, Joshi said.

The driver, while at the driving seat, has to blow the graphene sensor on the device to start the vehicle. This will immediately activate the sensor that will analyse and estimate the liquor content present in the blood of the driver. The engine of the vehicle will not start in case the presence of liquor is more than the prescribed limit under the Motor Vehicle Act, Joshi said. If the driver gets someone else to blow the graphene-coated sensor, the infrared feature of the sensor will analyse it and the vehicle will not start.

In case the driver feels sleepy while driving, the object and imaging module of the sensor will analyse his eye movements and will alert the co-passengers. The imaging technique will also send an alert in case the driver is talking on his mobile phone. The device will be equipped with the GPRS-GSM and biometric technologies and will help to know the location of the vehicle. In case of an accident, the device will automatically, within five to 10 minutes, dial phone number 100 to send an SOS to the police.

The team, on the advice of Uttarakhand Governor K.K. Paul, has sent the device to the patent cell of the Uttarakhand State Council for Science and Technology, Dehradun, for patent. The Governor has also advised the team to modify the device for use in commercial vehicles in the state that witnesses frequent fatal accidents. The device will be tested extensively at International Centre for Automotive Technology in Manesar, SGS Lab in Gurugram and the Automotive Research Association of India in Pune before it is used in vehicles.

The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways says 16 persons die every hour across India in road accidents. But it makes no mention of the numbers who died due to drunk driving.

RBI cautions banks on risks in retail loans


PUNE: The Reserve Bank of India Deputy Governor, N S Vishwanathan, said there appears to be a herd movement among bankers to grow retail credit and the personal loan segment in view of the problem-riddled corporate loan book. He cautioned that there are risks in this segment too.

“This is not a risk-free segment and banks should not see it as the grand panacea for their problem-riddled corporate loan book. There are risks here too that should be properly assessed, priced and mitigated,” said Vishwanathan in his speech titled ‘It is not business as usual for lenders and borrowers’ at the 14th convocation of the National Institute of Bank Management in Pune.

As per latest RBI data, personal loans, including housing, vehicle, consumer durables, and credit cards, increased by 20.4 per cent in February 2018 compared with an increase of 12 per cent in February 2017. Credit to industry, micro & small, medium and large, nudged up only 1 per cent in February 2018 compared with a contraction of 5.2 per cent in February 2017.

Banks have piled into the retail segment as delinquency is much lower vis-a-vis the corporate segment. For example, according to RBI’s financial stability report, the gross non-performing advances (GNPAs) ratio for housing finance assets remained flat at 1.55 per cent in September 2017. “The retail housing segment does not appear to pose any significant systemic risks in the Indian context at present,” the report said.

The GNPA ratio of scheduled commercial banks (SCBs) due to large borrowers increased from 14.6 per cent to 15.5 per cent between March and September 2017. A large borrower is defined as a borrower that has aggregate fund-based and non-fund based exposure of Rs 5 crore and more for the SCBs.

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Maharashtra Police swoops down on Dalit activists


PUNE (MUMBAI): The Maharashtra Police carried out multi-city raids against prominent Dalit activists and supporters in a fallout of the January 1 caste riots in Koregaon-Bhima, official sources said here.

The raids which started around 5 a.m. were carried out by several teams of the Pune police at the homes and offices of various Dalit activists in Mumbai, Pune and Nagpur in an attempt to unravel alleged links with Maoists in these urban centres.

A raid was also carried out at the residence of activist Rona Wilson in New Delhi. Besides, the police also zeroed in on those involved or connected with the Elgaar Conference of December 31, 2017 held in Pune which was addressed by Gujarat MLA Jignesh Mewani and JNU student leader Umar Khalid, Chhattisgarh activist Soni Sori and Bhim Army President Vinay Ratan Singh.

The police also raided and searched the home of prominent lawyer Surendra Gadling in Nagpur. He was representing several alleged Maoists in different courts, including the former Delhi University professor G.N. Saibaba. Searches continued at the premises of the Leftist organisation Kabir Kala Manch (KKM) and Republican Panthers Party in connection with the Elgaar Conference and other leaders like Ramesh Gaychor and Sagar Gorkhe.

In Mumbai, searches were carried out at the residences of Left activists Sudhir Dhawale, Harshali Potdar and Jyoti Jagtap. The police produced search warrants at all the places and carried away laptops, literature and pamphlets.

The raids followed a complaint registered against the KKM and other activists for organising the Elgaar Conference. Reacting sharply to the police action, Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh President Prakash Ambedkar termed it "harassment and diversionary tactics" by the government. "Instead of arresting Sambhaji Bhide, alias Guruji, the main culprit who fuelled the Koregaon-Bhima riots, the government is indulging in these diversions.

"Police have already arrested Milind Ekbote, but not Bhide. The police must declare what evidence they have found against these people," said Ambedkar, grandson of B.R. Ambedkar, chief architect of the Indian Constitution.

Republican Dalit Panthers Party President Sumedh Jadhav said the raids "are a serious matter" and expressed apprehension that the police are likely to arrest many activists involved with the Elgaar Conference. Ambedkar had met Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on several occasions demanding Bhide's arrest, but the state government later gave a clean chit to the Hindutva leader in the matter.

The Elgaar Conference was held in Pune's Shaniwarwada, later Koregaon-Bhim witnessed riots on January 1 which left one dead, followed by the retaliatory Maharashtra shutdown call issued by Ambedkar and other parties on January 3.